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The World's Most-Sanctioned Countries


This article is published in collaboration with Statista

by Florian Zandt


In the wake of its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has become the most-sanctioned country in the world with 5,581 sanctions currently in place. Between its recognition of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions as independent states on February 22 and March 8, the number of sanctions against Russian individuals and entities imposed by the U.S., the EU and select countries like Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Japan more than doubled when compared to the period prior. As our chart based on data aggregated by Castellum.AI shows, Putin's invasion has pushed Russia past one of the United States' biggest nemeses in Western Asia.


Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, Iran was by far the most-sanctioned state in history with 3,616 active sanctions by the U.S., the UN, the EU and countries like Australia, Canada, India and Israel. The relationship between the latter and the Islamic Republic has been especially fraught, with disputes surrounding Iran's atomic arsenal and its general hostile stance towards Israel threatening to escalate on a regular basis. A majority of the sanctions imposed on Syria, which ranks third on Castellum.AI's list, stem from the events surrounding the Syrian civil war starting in 2011. Following civil unrest in connection with the Arab Spring movement, clashes between President Bashar al-Assad's forces and an unlikely coalition of foreign and domestic actors often opposed on key issues led to a humanitarian crisis and the internal and foreign displacement of more than half of Syria's 22 million inhabitants over the years.


Leading the current round of sanctions against Russia are Switzerland, the EU and France with 568, 516 and 512 restrictions, respectively. The overwhelming majority of those sanctions target individuals, with only 366 of the 2,827 sanctions geared towards entities. Not included in these figures are sectoral sanctions like general trade embargos placed on gas or oil. On top of the sanctions put in place by nation-states and governing bodies, over 300 companies have either partially or completely withdrawn from the Russian market according to researchers at the Yale School of Management, among them industry heavyweights like Adidas, Google, Disney, Exxon or Volkswagen.


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