Russia may take counter-sanctions against West

Kęstutis Girnius
DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

After completing the written procedure on Thursday, EU member-states announced economic sanctions against Russia, which are also known as “phase-three” or “sectoral” sanctions.

The EU had long doubts but made its mind up after the 17 July crash of the Malaysian airliner in Eastern Ukraine. The Western world says pro-Russian separatists shot the passenger jet with weaponry provided by Russia.

The new sanctions will restrict Russia’s access to EU capital markets, trade in shares by Russian banks, and put an arms embargo on future deals. It also restricts trade in some technologies in the oil sector.

Political expert Kęstutis Girnius stated that European politicians should make it clear that the sanctions may have a negative effect on the West, as well.

“It would be a mistake to try to lull people and say that everything will turn out fine. People’s anger will be bigger than what it would have been if they were properly prepared for all the possible consequences,” Girnius told BNS on Thursday.

In his words, it is crucial whether EU member-states remain unanimous, even as European countries feel different damages caused by the sanctions. Girnius noted that “as soon as Russia struck back by banning imports of Polish fruit, Poland applied for EU support and compensation.”

Political expert Tomas Janeliūnas said Moscow’s counter-sanctions will not change Western policy, as the EU and the US have both made preliminary calculations of the possible economic fallout.

“In disagreement with such sanctions, Russia can indeed react, however, I truly doubt this would affect the Western stance. It will likely have an opposite effect – cause a certain spiral pattern when reactions and sanctions on Russia’s side would lead to an even higher degree of hostility,” Janeliūnas told BNS Thursday.

Another political expert, Nerijus Maliukevičius, said he does not expect rapid changes in the Kremlin’s behavior towards Ukraine, as withdrawal would cost Putin too much political capital domestically.

“The Russian campaign in Ukraine has gained enough negative momentum that the cost of a pullback for Putin would be higher in would be higher in domestic policy than the external sanctions. The nationalist hysteria of the Russian world has been ignited in Russia and it requires more victories for the domestic audience,” said Maliukevičius.

“I do not think the sanctions will force Putin into making certain concessions or pulling back on the stance in Ukraine in the short run,” he added.

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