In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the European aluminium industry and policymakers are rallying to accelerate the decoupling from Russian aluminium, a move that signifies a broader shift in Europe’s stance towards Russia. At a pivotal roundtable debate hosted by European Aluminium on 16 February 2023, experts, including Marta Barandiy, Ph.D. LL.M. Eur., founding chair of Promote Ukraine, gathered to discuss the path forward.

The Industry’s Commitment

The roundtable, titled “EU Sanctions: Towards a More Comprehensive Ban on Russian Aluminium,” highlighted the aluminium industry’s significant progress in reducing imports from Russia from 25% to a mere 9%. This demonstrates not only the sector’s resilience but also its readiness to support an even broader ban on Russian aluminium beyond the current restrictions on wires, foil, bars, rods, tubes, and pipes included in the EU’s 12th sanctions package.

Marta Barandiy’s Plea: A Call for Action

Marta Barandiy has been a vocal advocate for reevaluating Europe’s business ties with Russia, emphasising that “business as usual” can no longer be an option. She stressed that the atrocities witnessed in Bucha, Mariupol, and Izyum are direct consequences of the West’s prolonged economic engagement with Russia, exemplified by projects like Nord Stream 2.

Barandiy’s message was clear: European business, though often viewed through a commercial lens, directly fuels Russia’s geopolitical ambitions and its war efforts, not just in Ukraine but against Europe itself. She reminded the audience that Europe’s own military leaders anticipate a direct conflict with Russia within the next 3–5 years, underlining that the war is not a distant threat but a present reality.

The Economic Warfront

During her speech, Marta shed light on the hybrid warfare tactics employed by Russia, from electronic and cyber warfare to economic pressures, illustrating the complexities of the current geopolitical landscape. Barandiy argued that continuing trade with Russia not only funds its military aggression but also secures Europe’s defeat by delaying decisive action.

Looking Ahead: The Path to Disengagement

The consensus among the roundtable participants was unanimous: the need for a comprehensive ban on Russian aluminium is urgent to cut off a significant source of funding for Russia’s war machine. The European aluminium industry is poised to fill the gap left by Russian imports through increased domestic production, enhanced recycling efforts, and diversification of import partners.

The Moral Imperative

The roundtable concluded with a strong call to the European Commission and the European Council to enforce a full ban on Russian aluminium. This move is seen not just as a strategic necessity but as a moral imperative to stand against aggression and support the values of freedom, dignity, and justice that define Europe.

As Marta Barandiy poignantly noted, the stakes are higher than economic profit; they encompass the lives of countless Ukrainians and the foundational principles of European unity and security. The time for decisive action is now, as the cost of inaction is measured in human lives and the erosion of European values.

Author: Max Stepanov

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