Coffee House

Can the European Union agree a sanctions regime for Russia?

22 July 2014

8:31 AM

22 July 2014

8:31 AM

David Cameron talked tough on sanctions yesterday, suggesting that he had the German and French support. I believe he means what he says and is serious about following through with sanctions. I could even be convinced that France and Germany have hardened their positions to the point where they are genuinely willing to consider ‘stage three’ sanctions (which would hit specific firms and possibly sectors of the Russian economy). However, I remain far less convinced that the EU as a bloc can find a clear and united position – as Open Europe noted with its Dove/Hawk scale the divergences between countries are huge and the motivations for their positions is incredibly varied.

The UK Government is increasingly convinced of the need to inflict direct costs on the Russian regime as punishment for Vladimir Putin’s boisterous brand of Russian nationalism. It says that it is willing to stomach the potential collateral damage to the City of London (which in my view would be manageable) but it is not willing to bear the cost alone.

Whilst the German position has hardened, and there is increasing disillusionment with Putin, the historical and economic ties between the countries are significant and Germany continues to favour a mediating role rather than overt leadership in European foreign policy. Similarly, while the French government is talking a strong game there still seems to be little willingness to stomach any significant cost from the sanctions – not least in terms of scrapping its Mistral warships deal.

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Once the other 25 states are thrown into the mix, one has to consider whether a common position will truly hold. The Baltic states and Poland will be pushing for a very tough line, and they may get support from the likes of Sweden and the Netherlands – the UK would find it tough not to lead this group. However, Italy and Spain will probably question the need for action before the facts are clear, and highlight the concerns over the economic costs of such sanctions with the eurozone crisis still at the forefront of their minds – Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria would surely support such sentiments. Given that there is growing political momentum for sanctions, it is likely that something will be done. But the temptation will be to water down the proposed sanctions, which could in turn reduce their credibility.

The menu of potential sanctions is lengthy but the final choice will necessarily require a mix to ensure that the burden is shared. This would likely involve hitting the highest level of the Russian establishment with asset and travel bans but there remains great uncertainty about the possibility of ‘stage three’ sanctions targeted at the financial, energy and defence sectors.  EU finance ministers could opt for an outright end to deals with Russia in these areas. The more likely option seems to be something similar to the US approach of limiting certain Russian firms’ debt and equity finance on European markets; halting future defence contracts and limiting the export of specific high-tech and manufacturing equipment to Russian firms.

Fundamentally, the problem remains that the EU does not have a clear vision of what the overarching goal is – or an answer to the famous question posed by a certain US General, ‘Tell me how this ends?’ Despite months of talking, the answer to this admittedly difficult question has barely been addressed and the EU has wasted a period of relative calm (at least in terms of this crisis) without making any progress on this issue. Experience has shown us that sanctions rarely have a serious effect without a clear goal and strong political will behind them. Don’t therefore be surprised if what is agreed in the coming days and weeks falls short of the growing expectations.

Raoul Ruparel is Head of Economic Research at Open Europe. 

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    The United States and the EU are losing their so called ‘democracies’. America is now playing a ‘game of fool’ where a fool is Obama and his ignorant administration. Sanctions against Russia make no sense. The sanctions should be directed to the criminal government in Kiev, Ukraine supported by the US, that is, the sanctions against America itself. Obama makes so many mistakes day by day and as I think he’s begging to be impeached! The false foreign policy and no clue of honor!

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  • Benergy88

    Tweets from Sky and FT correspondents outside the foreign ministers meeting today painted a worrying picture. Despite appearing hard line on sanctions and agreeing that something has to be done, both the French and German (strangely) objected to a weapon export embargo on Russia. Although those two countries are likely to suffer the largest direct fall out from the cancelling of arms and munitions to Russia, they should be able to see that the City of London stands to lose just as much. The clear signal that the EU will be giving if it expands sanctions is likely to harm just as much FD in London and financial services as manufactured goods exports in the rest of the bloc.

    http://www.peakvol.com
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/15/ukraine-crimea-sanctions-russian-investment-london

  • Bonkim

    Unlikely – even France and Germany are just allowing Cameron to exhaust his breath.

  • beenzrgud

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  • Smithersjones2013

    Can the European Union agree a sanctions regime for Russia?

    Do pigs fly?

    • the viceroy’s gin

      “There’ll be pork in the treetops come morning.”

      Queen Eleanor (The Lion in Winter)

  • davidofkent

    Hollande will never agree with Britain. It is in his French genes.

  • somewhereinthesouth

    The EU is a waste of space. Whatever it does it always has to come down to the lowest common denominator as their interests are often quite divergent. They are still arguing how to save the Euro – something that they all claim isa priority so how on earth will they agree on strong sanctions against Russia which is clearly causing huge problems in Eastern Ukraine and is culpable for the MH7 murders which would not have happened if they weren’t training and supporting the rebels. With the exception of Britain [and to some extent France] the EU it is increasingly looking like a huge neutral version of Switzerland seeking peace at any price so they can continue to make money , whilst having free ride when it comes to defence via US and to some extent the UK. The UK really IS different from most of Europe on most of key issues [ trade and protectionism, defence spending, foreign policy, single currency, legal systems and democratic rights….] we need much looser arrangement or we should get out.

  • David Booth.

    I’ve not heard a peep from Baroness Ashton over the EU’s response to Russia.

    • somewhereinthesouth

      She’s probably still trying to work out what the “common ” policy is and is in negotiations over `long lunch with Junker. He meanwhile is trying to find someone to replace her who is not completely spineless when it comes to Moscow] Tricky when there are 28 con tires who all think differently – maybe she doesn’t want to draw attention to the EU’s last policy folly of encouraging the Ukraine in to the EU fold when it was obvious Russia was likely you react badly.

  • Alexsandr

    the EU can do nothing about Russia because they need Russian oil and gas. No-one is going to risk being without energy

  • Roger Hudson

    Still no sign of the KIEV civil and military air traffic control tapes !!
    Let us get the whole picture before action, we don’t need Cameron’s jingoism.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Yes, the moral question requires all of the data to be released, including the black boxes and these other recordings.

      • somewhereinthesouth

        And the black boxes will show what exactly ? A normal conversation with ATC and then a very loud bang.Wont provide anything of substance. The US already has satellite evidence showing where and when the missile was fired.

        • Colonel Mustard

          We don’t know whether the conversation with ATC was normal because there have been assertions regarding that.

          • somewhereinthesouth

            Well the Russian’s would say that wouldn’t they? As Mandy Rice Davis said. They also claim the Ukrainians were trying to shoot down Putins jet -hardly a credible argument but it shows how desperate they are. They will fabricate some dodgy evidence to cast doubt [ they’ve already tampered with the wreckage and the missiles have been smuggled out of E Ukraine.] Given that the self appointed leader of the rebels people republic is a Russian Citizen I doubt there will be much truth being liberated. They hope that enough people will be taken in [ perhaps because they want to be need to be so they don’t have to impose real sanctions] and so they will get away with it with a slap on the wrist. { Indeed they may be right given the EU’s disarray.)

            Given that Russia is riddled with corruption, has no respect for the rule of law ,is run by an ex KGB charm merchant plus his mafia buddies and it still denies having anything to do with the poisoning Litvinenko i wouldn’t believe a word which emanates from Putin . They will lie and lie – its in their blood. Really Russia just the old Soviet Union without the communism and the eastern vassal states. I recall that even when it was obvious the Soviets were killing their own citizens and oppressing freedom in Eastern Europe for no good reason other than maintaining power – many apologists on the left simply chose to ignore the inconvenient truth. I will believe in fairies when I see evidence of one.

            • Colonel Mustard

              Which part of “we don’t know” didn’t you understand?

            • the viceroy’s gin

              You have provided no evidence whatsoever to support your position, so it’s not surprising that you reference “fairies”.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          The black boxes will give indication of variances in air pressure around the aircraft, and these give indication of a potential pulse resulting from an explosion. You don’t know what these boxes are and how they’re used, apparently.

          You don’t know the nature of the “conversation with ATC”, and it is premature for you to do so, unless you have those recordings.

          And where is this US “satellite evidence you reference? I hven’t seen it.

          • somewhereinthesouth

            Stewart John, past president of the Royal Aeronautical Society, said: ‘The most you’re going to get is an explosion, and there’s nothing in my mind that could prove useful.’

            • the viceroy’s gin

              Then, like you, he’s unfamiliar with the use of black boxes.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                …by the way, do you have a link to this person, whoever he is? He’s not listed anywhere, for anything, based upon a cursory search.

  • Colonel Mustard

    “Socialising losses” (and other tedious lefty crap). Silly old socialist bat writes “factual fiction” with complete blind spot for the behaviour of sociopathic socialists:-

    http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/video/2013/dec/30/susan-george-austerity-socialise-losses-privatise-profits

    Similar to BBC class war script writer Fay who “makes things up to tell the truth”. Warning. You will need a brown paper bag.

    • BarkingAtTreehuggers

      Learn some English!
      I do not care *who is* socialising the losses,
      I care *whose* losses are socialised.

      (don’t even think about responding to this post)

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …you socialist nutters care about socialist nuttery, lad.

        • BarkingAtTreehuggers

          Sure – and you and all your eco(nomics)fascists NOT liking Mustard’s brilliant comment means what?

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Can any other of you socialist nutters translate this nutter’s incomprehensible gibberish?

            • BarkingAtTreehuggers

              Yes, you are ecofascists, that’s what you are.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                Well yes, you are a socialist nutter, but a socialist nutter can’t self-translate gibberish, lad.

                • BarkingAtTreehuggers

                  Yes, and you are eco(nomic) fascists, and you cannot win. You think you won but in the end, and I say when it ends, you won’t.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …have you socialist nutters locked up all the gibberish translators, or what?

  • Colonel Mustard

    Anyone over the age of 15 who uses the expression “Cool” should be forced to eat their own baseball cap.

    • dado_trunking

      Priti Patel is totally up for it.

      • Inverted Meniscus

        As are all your sock puppets laddie. We have got your friend barking at the goat on this thread as well lad. It must be your shift.

  • WinterMonarch

    It’s almost as if you needed a proper, fully fleshed out example of the fact that Europe can never have a common policy – especially in foreign affairs. The idea that there is a common European peoples is nonsense, as history shows time and time again.

  • Makroon

    In the photo’, Cameron seems to be saying: “OK, you are such a lovely couple, I think I’ll leave you to it”. Hollande holding Angela’s hand, showing again how good he is at “schmoozing the dames”.

    • GUBU

      I think you have totally misread this photograph.

      What it clearly shows is Mr Cameron and Frau Merkel offering reassurance to an evidently embarrassed and slightly bewildered Mr Hollande as they escort him back to his room to allow his retinue to change his trousers, after it dawned on him that the warm feeling he experienced minutes earlier was not the result of closer European co-operation in action.

      Not the first time this has happened, by the look on their faces.

  • Makroon

    Cameron: I think we should ban all arms sales to Russia and drastically cut gas imports.

    Merkel: We should close off European financial markets to Russia, and stop oligarch visits to London and Paris, but increase imports of gas and exports of cars, otherwise, ordinary Russian citizens will suffer.

    Hollande: I agree with Angela that access to financial markets should be drastically curtailed, but we should be careful to preserve long-term trading relationships. (Gallic shrug) After all, Putin won’t be there for ever.

    Tusk: (jumping up and down to be noticed) cut off all relations with those barstewards, now we are finally “Europeans” we demand you stick it to our hated neighbour – it was part of the deal !!

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Obama: I’m teeing off in 45 minutes, can’t we discuss this later?

    • somewhereinthesouth

      The response to Russia sounds rather like the EU position on the Euro. A disastrous policy decision which is still mired in fudge.

  • Dr. Heath

    Absolutely not.

    No one in the EU has any plans to do anything about Putin.
    Cameron seems a bit more belligerent because he’s read too many headlines.
    Putin’s murdered someone’s child. Putin’s thugs stole valuables from
    passengers’ luggage. It’s all true, of course. But the effect of an even more
    brutal than usual demonstration of Putin’s capacity for heartlessly murdering
    innocent people on Hollande and Merkel and the Dutch Prime Minister is nil.
    Dutch business leaders have been on to their man, telling him to keep a lid on
    it. London needs the oligarch’s billions. Hollande needs to sell the murderer
    more weapons. These facts are already clear. What’s wrong with appeasement? One day, it could just work out fine.

    The only people who might do something are, in the long run,
    the Republicans. Obama has behaved, they’ll maintain in the eighteen months
    prior to the 2016 general election, like the most egregious coward ever to
    occupy the White House. He’s expressed concern on any number of times and done almost nothing. Enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya doesn’t count. Barely the
    tiniest risk of a body-bag coming back home.

    Putin will reckon that his display inside his embassy in Kuala Lumpur of Nobo Board images of a Ukrainian jet wiping out his victims will calm things down. In Berlin and in Paris, it probably will. Putin will then carry on with the rest of his plan to Transdniestrify eastern bits of the Ukraine. Though we know that most of the
    population does not crave enserfment within Putin’s landfill site, the
    petitions begging for entry into Vladimir’s Paradise for Russians will arrive in Moscow and the tsar will, with some badly faked reluctance, agree to call into being what, for the time being, is the closest he’s going to get to a “Novorossiya”.

    Transdniestra. South Ossetia. Crimea. A to-be-announced Donyetsk
    People’s Republic. Onwards and Upwards, Vladimir! Angela and François, the EU’s very own Sooty and Sweep, wish you the very best, whatever harsh things they may say in public. Behind their backs, they’ve got their fingers crossed.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Not a bad summary.

      But remember, Barraco Barmer, Angela, Francois, Dave and the rest of the EUSSR nutters poked the bear in Transdniestra originally.

      Always best not to sow the wind.

  • DavidL

    “Europe” will not do anything that requires even the teensiest bit of sacrifice at home. Putin can be quietly confident of that.

  • MajorFrustration

    They will all just chunder on – big ideas ( which will make them all feel good) but no implementation. Political class – a bunch of cretins. Still a pan European issue does enable the likes of Dave to waste more time not dealing with the problems of the UK.

  • Fred Smith

    What, the way he suggested he had German support for his renegotiation tosh and later for not having Juncker appointed?

    The best thing Cameron could do is to drop his bellicose and impotent posturing.

  • Aberrant_Apostrophe

    Given that the EU spend years negotiating trade deals because so many EU countries are involved, what chance do they have in coming up with a quick response to Russia, especially as France and Germany are so reliant on Russian energy?

  • Colonel Mustard

    The three foolish monkeys of Europe – can’t stop babbling, can’t stop taxing and can’t stop Junker.

    • BarkingAtTreehuggers

      EU: Vote Ukip get Juncker
      UK: Vote Ukip get Labour

      Cool!

      • Fred Smith

        Whereas if you vote Conservative, you don’t get Juncker or Labour?

        • BarkingAtTreehuggers

          Ok, let us expand on this one.

          EU:
          Vote Lib, get Verhofstadt.
          Vote Lab, get Schulz.
          Vote Ukip=Con, get Juncker.
          Choice!

          UK:
          Vote Lib get Labour.
          Vote Lab get Labour.
          Vote Ukip=Con get Labour.
          The beauty of FPTP!

          • Inverted Meniscus

            Can any other socialist nutter translate this stream of gibberish please? It is EU sponsored so probably untranslatable.

            • BarkingAtTreehuggers

              Learn some English!
              sponsored ≠ sponsoring

              • Inverted Meniscus

                I am English Laddie. How is the weather in Belgium laddie? Is the Goat sunbathing? Which is the next of your gibberish spouting sock puppets to come on shift?

                • BarkingAtTreehuggers

                  Learn some English, you uneducated socialist nutter socialising your losses because you’ve run out of your own money.

                • Inverted Meniscus

                  Can anybody translate this socialist nutter’s gibberish? It must be near the end of his shift and thus we will soon be joined by Dado Trunking, shoe on my head, Dalai Guevara or you Kid. Oh, I almost forgot the Goat laddie. Which of your sock puppets is up next lad?

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Don’t respond. They just use the replies as a vehicle to post more disruptive gibberish. These are not people with any kind of serious argument or point of view but just bigoted, mocking goons whose juvenile ADHD has grown into sociopathic egotism. They think their mockery is clever whereas it is just tedious and lame.

                  The wonder is that suited goons at the EU think it is worth paying them for posting that crap.

      • Emulous

        Juncker was Chairman of the conferences of Euro Finance ministers throughout the peak of the European debt crisis during which time he confessed that had told “lies” and that key economic policy decisions were taken in “secret, dark debates”.

        • BarkingAtTreehuggers

          He had to protect/cover for his AngloAmerican allies who were printing their nations into oblivion.

      • Inverted Meniscus

        Vote for anybody who will rid us all of you and your army of gibberish spouting sock puppets laddie.

      • jazz606


        EU: Vote Ukip get Juncker
        UK: Vote Ukip get Labour

        Vote SNP get EU

  • james allen

    Haven’t we left yet, for God’s sake? Why do we waste so much time talking about this God-awful, undemocratic, German-dominated whorehouse in Brussels? GET OUT!

  • Andy

    The EU will do bugger all, as per.
    And Merkel might have ‘hardened’ her position, but you can be sure she will stab Cameron in the back like she usually does.

    • somewhereinthesouth

      That’s if the French don’t get there first.

      • Andy

        Probably do it together. Hollande is her poodle.

    • Unenlightened_Commentary

      Angela Merkel is willing to raise sanctions to the level of blocking Putin on Facebook if his forces shoots down more planes.

  • david trant

    If they did they wouldn’t keep to it, and Russia would find away around sanctions anyway. Have to larf at Dave saying that France should cancel that warship order, yeah of course. The Russians should immediately inquire as to whether there is any chance of the yard in Portsmouth being reopened as they’d like to have some ships built there, I wonder how it would go down if Dave said ‘no?’

  • swatnan

    Russia should get its retaliation in first and impose sanctions on Britain and the rest of Europe by cutting off all gas and minerals etc just to teach Britain and the rest of Europe that it had little to do with the Separatist, apart from they both speak Russian.
    The 2 black boxes were not spirited away to Moscow to be tampered with as suggested by all the hostile Media.

    • swatnan

      … and the reports of separatists rifling through the possions of the dead passengers was abit exagerated. Those who arrived at tnhescene would no doubt have wanted to see if there were any survivors/and or who they were. and or any bodies removed from the scene and put into cold storage.
      The media frenzy of separatists eating children is a bit over exagerated, as indeed is the amount of news coverage this has had. around 300 have died in a tragic accident. But over 600+ have died at the hands of Israel.
      The Media are a disgrace.

      • somewhereinthesouth

        Oh, so when arm and you give complex and powerful weapons to untrained thugs and they shoot down a civilian plane its tragic accident. I would call it criminally irresponsible. i agree with your point about Israel but then its hardly news , given the Arab Israeli conflict has been going on for decades now? Moreover the media to my mind are biased against Israel which, whilst it may be overreacting , has good reason to want to stop Hamas in Gaza firing rockets at them. The latter achieves nothing [ except their own innocent people being killed] and Israel isn’t going away so I’d say the Palestinians need new strategy – its called peace.

      • Makroon

        That wasn’t “separatists” rifling through victim’s possessions, it was an “experienced” Sky reporter.
        Experienced in what ?

    • davidofkent

      And you are commenting from where???

      • swatnan

        … ffrom the UK, but I’m prepared to put up with a bit of inconvenience so long as it doesn’t get iun the way of ‘truth.’

    • Unenlightened_Commentary

      Yes Russia should do that. It would be hilarious if the wipe out their own economy.

      • swatnan

        … and our economy into the bargain. Lots of arms trading between Britain and Russia, but why they’d want rifles when they’ve got pretty good kalashnikov’s is a mystery. Britain could also send back a dozen parasitic oligarchs like Abrahamovic into the bargain too.

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