Dmitry Medvedev, former Russia president and now deputy head of the country’s security council, has said it would be “foolish” to believe that Western sanctions against Russian businesses could have any effect on the Moscow government.
The West has imposed an array of sanctions on Russia, with some sanctions specifically targeting billionaire businessmen believed to be close to President Vladimir Putin.
“Let us ask ourselves: can any of these major businessmen have even the tiniest quantum of influence of the position of the country’s leadership?” Medvedev said in an interview with Russian state news agency RIA.
“I openly tell you: no, no way.”
But analysts believe that putting the squeeze on oligarchs could work, as they could in turn pressure Putin to change his strategy.
Sociology professor Brooke Harrington, who has researched the offshore wealth of the super-rich, said “the wealthiest Russians are far better placed than the average citizen to communicate to Putin how his invasion is devastating his own country”.
“The lavish lifestyles that oligarchs and their families lead mean they’re highly vulnerable to external pressure,” she added in a recent column for The Atlantic.
Stanislav Markus, who has studied Russia’s oligarchs, told US media outlet Vox that “more and more, they’re being pushed against the wall.”