The Monitoring Group of the Institute for Black Sea Strategic Studies has been researching the issue of sanctions against Russia since they were first introduced, that is, for the eighth year. It is time to take stock of the current policy of global sanctions from a philosophical, so to speak, point of view.

After all, the sanctions policy in connection with Russia’s aggression is unique. For example, there were no and there are no sanctions due to the occupation of part of Georgia. That is why Georgians are jealous of us. But this does not mean that the issue of sanctions cannot be discussed or criticised in order to improve sanctions policy.

Today, the sanctions policy is very inconsistent. And it is at a time when we are preparing and promoting a new sanctions package.

Let us recall that in March 2014, 100 countries voted for the first Crimean resolution of the UN General Assembly and Crimean sanctions due to Russia’s illegal occupation of the Crimean peninsula. But then the number of countries voting for the Crimean resolutions gradually decreased to 52. And only 32 countries are coming to our summit on 23 August. This is a dangerous trend with a war at the end.

This means that these hundred countries made decisions emotionally in 2014 because they were outraged by violations of the foundations of international law in the civilised world. And then these values gave way to pragmatism. For a hundred years the world has been using the so-called real politics. But now this real politics has a Russian flavour. That is, for these about 70 countries, their pragmatic, i.e. business or political interests of cooperation with the Russian Federation, have become higher than the values of the civilised world.

I call on our Ukrainian experts, government officials, MPs and diplomats to put this issue on the world agenda, because at the end of this there is a war. Putin will not stop.

In the civilised world, it is generally believed that the purpose of sanctions is to change the policy of the state on which sanctions are imposed. But this does not work in the case of totalitarian regimes. Has the policy of North Korea and Iran changed under sanctions? Similarly, Russia’s policy will not change either, because it is an almost totalitarian state. It only uses sanctions to consolidate the population around the dictator and his ruling clan.

This does not mean that sanctions need to be lifted. Sanctions are working. We need to understand that while sanctions will not change the policies of these regimes, their real goal is to minimise Russia’s ability to wage aggressive wars. These include the defence sector, tool-making industry, shipbuilding, space and missile industries, research institutes, and their suppliers of machinery, equipment, and so on.

In addition, the maximum pressure should be on legal entities rather than on individuals. We see that many countries that do not want to destroy their business with Russia do not impose sanctions on Russian enterprises that cooperate with their domestic companies. Instead, they impose sanctions on individuals.

For example, everyone remembers how in 2018 Russia seized our boats and a tug in the Kerch Strait. Then, they started talking about serious Azov sanctions. And we participated in this process, proposing sanctions against Russian ports in the Sea of Azov and the like. But it ended with the imposition of sanctions on seven Russian captains and admirals of the first rank, who led and are in charge of the coast guard of the FSB of Russia. It was just a mockery, because five years ago, Vladimir Putin banned those admirals and colonels from having assets abroad, going on vacation abroad, and sending their children to study abroad.

This is an imitation of sanctions. This needs to be changed. If we do not do this, we will not be able to stop the war.

We have only two ways to liberate Crimea – either military or sanctions. Those who do not want to impose sanctions are contributing to a local or a series of local conflicts that could escalate into a new global war. The civilised world must realise this and seriously update its policy of sanctions against Russia’s aggression.

Andriy Klymenko, Head of the Institute for Black Sea Strategic Studies, Editor-in-Chief of the BlackSeaNews online portal

Source: ZMINA Human Rights Centre

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