A recent upswing in nickel prices is being attributed to Russian President Vladimir Putin's policies towards Ukraine — and the threat of international sanctions against the Putin regime could have big ramifications for the commodity.

Monday's sanctions by Canada and the United States were mostly aimed at individuals, but some observers suspect Russia's nickel exporters, and other industries, will be next on the list.

Sudbury representatives for nickel mining companies like Vale declined a request for comment, but analyst Donald Rumball, a Toronto-based analyst who studies the Sudbury mining market, said the price fluctuation probably won't last.

"Well, the problem with sanctions is very porous,” he said.

“If Russia was stopped from selling nickel, what would stop it from selling to China and Indonesia and Vietnam and who else."

The uncertainty about global supply lead to an eleven-month high in the nickel price last week. Rumball said the prices might help local producers in the short run, but the situation in Russia is dangerous. 

"I don't think it's very healthy for the market to have surges and collapses in price because it gets a little unpredictable."

Rumball argued that, unless more countries join forces with Canada, the U.S. and European Union, he doesn't predict a longer-term rise in the price.

Russia is the world's second largest producer of refined nickel, behind China.