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Moscow will have to choose between butter and guns

Moscow will have to choose between butter and guns

Do sanctions against Russia help? Yes, they are already hitting Vladimir Putin and his accomplices hard, and their effects on the Russian economy will increase over time.

Since Russia deliberately violated international law by invading Ukraine, the EU has adopted six sanctions packages against Moscow. Our measures now target nearly 1,200 individuals and 98 entities in Russia, as well as a significant number of sectors of the Russian economy. These sanctions were adopted in coordination with the members of the G7. Their effectiveness is reinforced by the fact that more than 40 countries (including traditionally neutral countries) have adopted them or have taken similar measures.

By the end of 2022, we will have reduced our Russian oil imports by 90% and we are rapidly reducing our gas imports. These decisions are gradually freeing us from a dependency that has long inhibited our political options in the face of Vladimir Putin’s aggressiveness. He probably believed that Europe would not dare to apply sanctions due to its energy dependency. This is not the least of the many misjudgments made by the Russian regime in this conflict. Of course, this rapid detoxification of Russian energy also creates serious difficulties for many EU countries and for various sectors of activity. But this is the price we have to pay for defending our democracies and international law, and we are taking the necessary steps to deal with these problems in solidarity.

Some will say: “But do these sanctions really affect the Russian economy?” The answer is yes. Because while Russia exports many raw materials, it is also forced to import many high value-added products that it does not produce. In terms of advanced technologies, it depends 45% on Europe and 21% on the United States, compared to only 11% on China.

In the military field, crucial in the context of the war in Ukraine, the sanctions limit Russia’s ability to produce precision missiles, such as the Iskander or the KH 101. Almost all foreign car manufacturers have also decided to withdraw from Russia and the few cars produced by Russian manufacturers will be sold without airbags or automatic transmissions.

The oil industry is not only suffering from the departure of foreign operators, but also from the difficulty of accessing advanced technologies, such as horizontal drilling. The ability of the Russian industry to bring new wells online is likely to be limited. Finally, to maintain air traffic, Russia will have to withdraw most of its planes from circulation to recover the necessary spare parts so that the others can fly. To this must be added the loss of access to financial markets, the disconnection of the great global research networks and the massive brain drain.

As for the alternative that China would offer to the Russian economy, it remains limited in reality, especially for high-tech products. Until now, the government in Beijing, heavily dependent on its exports to developed countries, has not allowed Russia to circumvent Western sanctions. Chinese exports to Russia have decreased in proportions comparable to those of Western countries.

Will these significant and growing shocks lead Vladimir Putin to modify his strategic calculations? Probably not in the immediate future: his actions are not primarily guided by economic logic. However, by forcing him to choose between butter and cannons, the sanctions lock him into an ever-tightening circle.

The impact of these sanctions remains on third countries, especially African ones, which depend on Russian and Ukrainian wheat and fertilizers. The responsibilities in the food crisis are clear: our sanctions do not target Russian wheat or fertilizer exports, while Ukraine is prevented from exporting its wheat because of the blockade of the Black Sea and the destruction caused by Russian aggression. If any potential difficulties related to our sanctions materialize, we are prepared to put in place the appropriate mechanisms to respond. I have informed my African counterparts of this and asked them not to be fooled by the falsehoods of the Russian authorities about our sanctions.

The real answer to the difficulties of the world energy and food markets is the end of the war. This cannot be achieved by accepting the Russian dictate, but by withdrawing the Russian army from Ukraine. Respect for the territorial integrity of States and the prohibition of the use of force are neither Western nor European principles. They are the foundation of all international law. Russia happily tramples them. Accepting such a violation would open the door to the law of the jungle on a global scale.

Contrary to what we thought with some naivety a few years ago, economic interdependence does not automatically imply a pacification of international relations. For this reason, the transition towards a Europe as a power is imperative, which I have been demanding since the beginning of my mandate. In the face of the invasion of Ukraine, we have started to move from intention to action showing that, when provoked, Europe can respond. Since we do not want to go to war with Russia, economic sanctions are now at the core of this response. They are already beginning to have an effect and will do so even more in the coming months. (EITHER)

Source: Eluniverso

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