Russian Sanctions Likely To Remain In Effect, But Ineffective

Peter’s Commentary:

The economic sanctions that have been imposed on Russia are likely to remain in place. At least until the cease-fire in Ukraine is working properly. Angela Merkel stated today that it would be premature to ease any pressure on Moscow at this stage.

European governments have been trying to decide whether to renew the sanctions, which are currently due to expire at the end of July.

Red Square, Moscow

Red Square, Moscow
Photo by Adam Baker

From Reuters, Adrian Croft, March 19, 2015.

“We cannot and will not lift the sanctions that expire in July or September until the demands of the Minsk agreement have been fulfilled. That would be wrong,” Merkel told Germany’s Bundestag lower house of parliament on Thursday.

The Minsk agreement, which set out a series of steps to defuse the Ukraine crisis including a ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weapons, came under renewed strain on Wednesday, with Ukraine and Russia clashing publicly over the next steps and further Ukrainian military casualties from rebel attacks.

EU countries vary widely in their enthusiasm for sanctions on Russia, the bloc’s leading energy supplier. While some governments want to send a tough signal to Moscow by renewing the July sanctions now, others say the ceasefire should be given a chance to work and want to wait until June to take a decision.

European Council President Donald Tusk urged EU leaders on Thursday to keep up pressure on Russia until Minsk is fully implemented.

“This must ultimately conclude in Ukraine regaining control of its borders as foreseen in the (Minsk) plan,” he told a news conference before the summit.

How Effective Are The Sanctions?

Reports from Sputnik News suggest that Russia will be able to maintain export levels of military arms despite the sanctions that have been been imposed by the West.

In 2014, Russia’s state arms trader, Rosboronexport sold $13.2 billion worth of armaments. Export projections for both 2015 and 2016 are projected to remain the same.

Sputnik News also suggests that the effect of the anti-Russian sanctions failed to meet expectations. Neither politically or economically. Interviews of German, Russian and Polish analysts were carried out by Deutshe Welle, and appear to show that the sanctions have not been effective. According to one expert, they may even have strengthened the positions of the Russian authorities and increased sentiment against Europe and the US. <Source>

Vladimir Putin’s Approval Rating at 86%

Putin’s approval ratings have soared to 86% while the sanctions have been in place.

Mr. Putin’s latest Levada-Center poll numbers indicate he’s favored by 86 percent of Russians, up from 85 percent last month. His numbers have been great since mid-May 2014 — the same time the Ukraine military operation kicked in, CNNreported.

I’m sure that the point of the sanctions was NOT to give Putin higher and higher approval ratings!

Conclusions

It seems like the US and European countries will keep Russian sanctions in place for the time being, even though their effectiveness is questionable.

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