Russia sanctions: The ONE sanctions target that could hit the Russian economy hardest

Ukraine should have invested in army sooner says Prystaiko

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In individual addresses today, world leaders came forward to condemn Russian aggression at Ukraine’s borders. Many, including representatives of the EU, its member states, the UK and the US, have pledged additional retribution. These have, so far, taken the form of sanctions, a route often criticised for its lack of effectiveness.

Earlier this week, several nations directed new sanctions at Russia, designed to cripple its economy.

Boris Johnson clamped down on banks and individuals based in the UK, while the US followed with a similar focus.

The EU has focussed on Russian officials, sanctioning defence ministers and military chiefs.

But these may not prove harsh enough to dissuade Mr Putin from ending his invasion.

Margarita Balmaceda, a professor of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, said “very few” sanctions would work against the Putin regime.

She told Express.co.uk that one of them would be “stopping imports of Russian oil and natural gas”.

Professor Balmaceda said import profits fuel Russia’s war purse and brought $8 billion to military funds last year.

But, she added, it was “not possible” for Europe to exact a toll in this fashion as “elites and economies” have “cosied up to the promise and profits of Russian energy imports”.

European nations currently benefit from a vast network of pipelines entering the continent from Russia.

Operation falls to state-controlled organisations, such as Gazprom, one of the biggest suppliers to EU nations.

In 2021, exports rose 5.8 billion cubic metres (BCM) to 185.1 in total, with increased European reliance on the firm.

In Germany, Turkey and Italy, Gazprom increased its exports by 10.5 percent, 63 percent and 20.3 percent respectively.

So far, only Germany has hit Russia in its oil exports.

On Wednesday, newly minted Chancellor Olaf Scholz became the toughest responder to the growing crisis.

As Russia recognised separatist regions as independent, he struck down the planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

And he told reporters that the £8 billion pipeline might never go into operation.

One of the other highly-favoured routes for punishing Russia is via the SWIFT system.

SWIFT facilitates payments between a growing network of countries and would effectively cut off Russia financially from the rest of Europe.

But, at the same time, it would prevent western creditors from reclaiming funds lost in the process.

And Russia has recently invested in an alternative system that could subvert some of the most punishing effects from the move.

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