So, what is a sanction? Depending on the dictionary, this word may be defined as:
–Action by one or more states toward another state calculated to force it to comply with legal obligations.
–A coercive measure, especially one taken by one or more states against another guilty of violating international law.
But we did not need to resort to the dictionary to understand that the word sanction implies the existence of at least two subjects, the sanctioner (A) and the sanctioned (B), plus an object (C): a law or rule to which A and B are submitted by virtue of whatever previous and legitimate pact, be this explicit (a contract, a mutual agreement) or implicit (the Law in general, the ‘social contract’, the family, etc). Thus, in order for A to impose sanctions on B we absolutely need, at the very least, four elements: 1st), that both subjects acknowledge to be mutually bound to C; 2nd), that C stablishes the authority of either part (or of A towards B) to punish the other in case of breach; 3rd), that B has effectively broken the pact and is guilty according to C (or to complementary and mutually accepted rules); and 4th), that the sanction corresponding to the breach is either provided in C or may be legitimately established in accordance to complementary and mutually accepted rules.
Hence it follows that the so-called ‘economic sanctions’ imposed by the West on the Russian Federation (RF) on occasion of the latter’s Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine cannot properly be called sanctions, for even if three of the above elements were met in this case (which I do not know), the fact is that no one whose authority on such matter be mutually acknowledged by both the West and the RF has so far declared the latter guilty of by its SMO violating international law or legal obligations. Thus, the West has no more right to impose unilateral sanctions on Russia than Russia has on the West. Either those sanctions are illegitimate, or they cannot be called sanctions at all, which is what I think.
Indeed, when I am angry with the shop tender down the street because he is not behaving according to my wishes, and then I stop buying stuff from him, I am not sanctioning him: I am retaliating in order to coerce him to comply with my desires. And the same goes for the case in study: Western ‘economic sanctions’ on Russia are, actually, economic reprisals, also known as blackmail; and that is how anyone concerned with the truth should properly call them.