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Are the sanctions against Russia effective?

The war in Ukraine has been going on for over 110 days and it is hard to come up with any optimistic scenarios. According to experts and the polls carried out, it appears that the war will be long and exhausting, and the sanctions imposed on Russia, despite the weakening of its economy, have not yet brought the expected results. Can the sanctions then influence the course of the war?

Why sanctions?

The aim of the sanctions imposed on Russia is to weaken the economy, so that the Russian state will not be able to afford a further aggressive policy. The sanctions have a long-term effect, and the Russians themselves estimate that they will feel the situation in the third and fourth quarters, when supplies run out and refilling them will not be so easy.

Who is sanctioned?

It is known that the sanctions cover the entire Russian state, but what does that mean? The sanctions list includes:

  • president of Russia Vladimir Putin
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov
  • oligarchs linked to the Kremlin, e.g. Roman Abramowicz
  • 351 Russian deputies State Duma (lower chamber of parliament) who voted on February 15, 2022 to recognize the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts
  • national members Security Council
  • officials high-level and military personnel
  • prominent businessmen (i.e. persons operating in the Russian steel industry and persons providing the Russian state with financial services as well as military products and technologies)
  • propagandists and disinformers
  • people responsible for the atrocities committed in Bucza and Mariupol
  • some family members of these people.

The more people subject to sanctions and the more influential names on the list, the greater the chance that, feeling the negative effects of the war, so as not to exacerbate them, they will want to end the conflict sooner. 

The sanctions apply not only to the influential Russian figures mentioned above, but also hit the economy strictly, weakening it and affecting the lives of all inhabitants. Many products have been subject to sanctions. What goods cannot be exported to Russia from the EU?

The list of sanctioned products includes:

  • the most modern technology (e.g. quantum computers and advanced semiconductors, high-end electronics and software)
  • certain types of machinery and equipment transport
  • specific goods and technology needed for oil refining
  • equipment, technology and services used in energy industry
  • goods and technology in aerospace industry (e.g. aircraft, aircraft and helicopter spare parts and accessories, jet fuel)
  • equipment maritime navigation and radio communication technology
  • a range of products dual use (products that can be used for both civilian and military purposes) such as drones and drone software or encryption devices
  • luxury goods (e.g. luxury cars, watches, jewelry).

What goods cannot be imported from Russia into the EU?

The list of sanctioned products includes:

  • crude oil and refined petroleum productswith some exceptions (independence from Russian oil is to be achieved within 6 months, and from petroleum products - within 8 months)
  • coal and other solid fossil fuels (from August 2022 - due to contracts still in force)
  • steel and iron
  • wood, cement and some fertilizers
  • seafood and alcohol (e.g. caviar, vodka).

This month, the Council adopted another package of sanctions, prohibiting, inter alia, purchase, import or transfer of crude oil and certain petroleum products from Russia to the EU. In terms of transport, it was decided that Russian and Belarusian road hauliers are banned from entering the territory of the EU, even if they only transport goods in transit.

It is difficult to speak clearly about the effectiveness of the Russian sanctions, but it is impossible not to notice that the Russian state is weakening with each new sanction, which works in favor of Ukraine and gives hope for a faster end to the conflict.