Economic War

Ukraine and the Global Conflict between Russia and the West

Part of the New Perspectives on Eastern Europe and Eurasia series
July 2023 9781787389564 280pp
Available as an eBook
EU Customers


Vladimir Putin’s first invasion of Ukraine, in 2014, set off a global economic clash, as the West used its clout with international markets to deter and penalise the Kremlin. The battlelines of this ‘war by other means’ traversed a series of deep economic connections, built up during Russia’s oil, gas and commodities boom: global equity and capital markets, and transnational kleptocracy. 

Maximilian Hess’s startling book lifts the lid on Russia’s response to Western sanctions, and the ensuing skirmishes in London’s courts, on Swiss trading desks and in boardrooms in New Delhi. He explores how pipelines, mines, loans and crypto-markets were weaponised. This narrative sets the stage for Putin’s all-out assault on Kyiv in February 2022, which turned financial, food and fuel markets into bona fide battlefields, bringing the fight into everyone’s home, from Pennsylvania to Pakistan. 

Rather than a ‘new Cold War’, we are witnessing a conflict over finance, energy and capital markets. How such economic warfare turns out will determine the future of liberalism and democracy; it will also set a precedent for economic relations between the West and China, as the two diverge into rival spheres of influence and power.


‘Hess examines how Russia’s response to the west’s economic sanctions following the first invasion of Ukraine in 2014 helped to set the stage for [the current] conflict.’ — Financial Times

‘Timely.’ — Diplomatic Courier, ‘15 Books to Look Forward to in 2023’

‘Much has been said about Putin’s background in the KGB, but Hess makes a convincing case that his days in the St. Petersburg government, when he served as a liaison between the city, foreign business and, occasionally, criminal underworld, were just as formative.’ — The Washington Post

‘An accessible but detailed account of the economic war between Russia and the West.’ — Informed Comment

‘A welcome addition to a growing body of research on Russia’s invasions of Ukraine.’ — CHOICE

‘An outstanding account, filled with insights and details. If you want to understand why we are already in an age of Global Conflict, there is no better place to start.’ — Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads and The Earth Transformed

‘A critical book for understanding Russia’s war against Ukraine and the West’s response. Tracing Russia’s tactics of economic warfare across the world, from Beijing to Istanbul, from Caracas to London’s bond markets, this is the most detailed and far-reaching analysis of the economic war with Russia yet.’ — Chris Miller, author of Chip War

Economic War shows how trade, finance, and information are the new battlegrounds in a world where traditional warfare is becoming obsolete. A unique perspective on the largest crisis in Europe since the Cold War, this is a must-read for anyone seeking a better understanding of the conflict, and its implications for global politics.’ — Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, former Chief International Correspondent, CNBC

‘From sanctions to bonds of war, Economic War is an essential guide to how a decade of conflict between Russia and Ukraine has redrawn the global economic order.’ — Jack Farchy, co-author of The World for Sale


Maximilian Hess is a political risk analyst and consultant, as well as a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. Max speaks German, Russian, Georgian and Spanish, and has written for the Financial Times, the New Statesman and Foreign Policy, alongside a regular column for Al Jazeera.  

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