In reduced economic circumstances the big test for Russia is whether it will be forced to retrench, or whether Vladimir Putin will take his chances on expansionist foreign policy at a moment when there’s less money to go around to combat legitimate threats.
The Kremlin now sees the U.S. goal as the toppling of the Putin regime. That said, expecting Putin to back off betrays a lack of understanding of the gravity of the situation. It is no longer just a struggle for Ukraine, but a battle for Russia.
There are few if any reasons for Russia to worry about an immediate negative impact on trade and economic interests of signing of the AA/DCFTA by Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia. The Russian government’s position is more likely to reflect concerns about the loss of geopolitical influence rather than trade and economic relations.
The first three months of U.S.-led sanctions did not cause yet deep-seated problems for Russian economy. Regardless, the stakes for Russia are very high. Like the proverbial ancient warrior, it is standing at a crossroads now.