Robert Harneis –TDO- (FRANCE) The European Union has extended sanctions against 150 Russian individuals and 38 Russian entities over the annexation of Crimea and Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014 for another six months. The measures, which include asset freezes and travel restrictions, will run until September. They are in addition to restrictions on economic relations with Crimea and Sevastopol, running until June and economic sanctions on several Russia economic sectors, which run until July.
The latest extension of economic sanctions by the European Union is unlikely to seriously harm Russia’s economy and may even benefit some sectors, according to an MP representing the opposition party, Fair Russia.
“This was a well-expected move, because the European Union is not independent in international politics, it remains under the rigid control of the USA,” Deputy Head of Fair Russia’s caucus in the State Duma Mikhail Yemelyanov told Regnum news site. “As long as the USA maintains its anti-Russian hysteria, the EU would not dare to lift the sanctions,” he added.
It is the steep fall in oil prices that have affected the Russian economy more than sanctions. The latest figures show a return to modest growth, record low inflation, low government debt and rising gold reserves. There are no signs at all that they are likely to make the Russian government change any of its policies either in Ukraine or Crimea.
In June 2017, President Vladimir Putin told participants at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum that “The sanctions had helped Russia to switch on its brains, instead of just trading in oil and gas and pushed the nation towards structural changes in the economy.”
A number of EU countries have suffered from sanctions and with their leaders expressing opposition notably Italy, the Czech Republic, Greece, Bulgaria and particularly Hungary but despite the unanimity rule, meaning any one of them could block renewal, none of them yet feels bold enough to make a stand.