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The 'easy to do' sanctions have now been imposed on Russia but there is much more that could be done

The United States and Britain have imposed new sanctions against Russia. This is a significant step up and clearly shows that they worked closely together.

There will be much discussion about the decision to sanction Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters, as well as the wife and child of Sergei Lavrov’s foreign minister, but the most important move was the additional measures taken against Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender.

The UK placed an asset freeze on Sberbank, Credit Bank of Moscow and another Russian bank. However, the US introduced what are called ‘full blocking’ sanctions against Sberbank, Alfa Bank, and Russia’s largest private bank.

These institutions won’t be able transact with American individuals or institutions in any country or in any currency. It is sanctioning a level of treatment that is similar to the previous treatment Washington gave Iran’s banks.

Image: Germany heavily depends on Russian oil, gas and other resources. Pic: AP

Ukraine news: A major new Russian offensive is ‘likely within the days’ – as new Sanctions target Putin’s Children

These actions have been very successful in Iran’s economic woes and the Biden administration will be hoping for an identical outcome. Russia is heading towards a recession that will be worse than the one it suffered during the pandemic.

Strangely, both the UK and the USA have imposed identical bans on new Russian inward investments. This is another move that will continue to harm Moscow.

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The UK spent more than PS11bn on Russia in 2020, while the US spent $14.4bn (PS11bn), in Russia in 2019, and another $12.5bn (19.5bn) the year after that.

These large sums will deprive Putin’s regime of potential growth opportunities. It will also take away Moscow’s intellectual property and knowhow, which could lead to productivity gains in the country.

Image Sky’s Mark Austin interview Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov

One White House official made this observation today: “The truth is that Russia is falling into economic, financial and technological isolation.” It will soon return to Soviet-style living standards in the 1980s, and at this pace.

The bans on Russian fuel exports are also significant. The US already announced an immediate ban on Russian oil and gas imports, while the EU declared yesterday that it would ban the import of Russian coal, but has not yet hesitated to ban Russian oil (which it imports at the rate of 2.3million barrels per daily – or Russian gasoline).

After its latest offensive, the UK now lies somewhere between. The UK will not import any Russian coal, due to its low price. However, Russian oil and Russian coal will both be coming into the UK by 2022. There is also a promise that the UK will stop importing Russian gas as soon as possible.

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Jonathan Reynolds, Labour: Sanctions are in effect

In fairness to the EU it is worth noting that the US and UK are able to impose sanctions because of their low dependence on Russian energy resources.

Similar penalties would be very painful for the EU and Germany as well as its largest economy.

German federal minister of finance Christian Lindner has said that Russia’s ban on Russian gas would be more damaging to Germany than Russia.

This latest group of oligarchs being targeted with asset freezes or travel bans has also significant meaning, even though, in some cases, the UK seems to be catching up to sanctions on individuals who have been targeted by the US or EU or both.

The US has already targeted Sergey Ivanov , the president of Alrosa, the largest rough diamond producer in the world, whose father was a former comrade with Mr Putin’s in KGB. The EU sanctioned Andrey Guryev as chairman and founder of fertilizer giant PhosAgro almost a month back.

However, it is clear that sanctions against these people will be detrimental to Mr Putin as many of them are believed hold assets for him. This is why his daughters were also targeted.

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These are severe sanctions on Russia in the round.

However, there is a growing feeling that the US, UK, and EU have all gone as far to protect their economies as possible – even though some corporations, like BP, have had to make very difficult financial decisions. The sanctions that are ‘easier to do’ have been implemented.

But there’s more to be done. Josep Borrell (EU’s chief of foreign policy), revealed that Russia has been paid EUR35bn (PS29bn), for oil and gas since the start of the war.

If Putin’s war against Ukraine is to stop, it will be necessary for the EU to ban Russian oil and gas.

Even that might not be enough to stop the Putin regime from receiving financial oxygen.

China purchases more fuel from Russia that the EU, and shows no intention to join the West in punishing Putin for his brutality.


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