International sanctions during the Ukrainian crisis
International sanctions were imposed during the Ukrainian crisis by a large number of countries against Russia and Crimea following the Russian military intervention in Ukraine, which began in late February 2014. The sanctions were imposed by the United States, the European Union (EU) and other countries and international organisations against individuals, businesses and officials from Russia and Ukraine. Russia responded with sanctions against a number of countries, including a total ban on food imports from the EU, United States, Norway, Canada and Australia.
The sanctions contributed to the collapse of the Russian ruble and the Russian financial crisis. They also caused economic damage to a number of EU countries, with total losses estimated at €100 billion (as of 2015).
According to Ukrainian officials,[a] the sanctions forced Russia to change its approach towards Ukraine and undermined the Russian military advances in the region. Representatives of these countries say that they will lift sanctions against Russia only after Moscow fulfills the Minsk II agreements.
In response to the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, some governments and international organisations, led by the United States and European Union, imposed sanctions on Russian individuals and businesses. As the unrest expanded into other parts of Eastern Ukraine, and later escalated into the ongoing war in the Donbass region, the scope of the sanctions increased. Overall, three types of sanctions were imposed: ban on provision of technology for oil and gas exploration, ban on provision of credits to Russian oil companies and state banks, travel restrictions on the influential Russian citizens close to President and involved in the annexation of Crimea. The Russian government responded in kind, with sanctions against some Canadian and American individuals and, in August 2014, with a total ban on food imports from the European Union, United States, Norway, Canada and Australia.
Sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian individuals, companies and officialsEdit
First round : March/April 2014Edit
On 6 March 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama, invoking, inter alia, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the National Emergencies Act, signed an executive order declaring a national emergency and ordering sanctions, including travel bans and the freezing of U.S. assets, against not-yet-specified individuals who had "asserted governmental authority in the Crimean region without the authorization of the Government of Ukraine" and whose actions were found, inter alia, to "undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine".
On 17 March 2014, the U.S., the EU and Canada introduced specifically targeted sanctions, the day after the Crimean referendum and a few hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing Crimea as an independent state, laying the groundwork for its annexation of Crimea by Russia. The principal EU sanction aimed to "prevent the entry into … their territories of the natural persons responsible for actions which undermine … the territorial integrity … of Ukraine, and of natural persons associated with them, as listed in the Annex". The EU imposed its sanctions "in the absence of de-escalatory steps by the Russian Federation" in order to bring an end to the violence in eastern Ukraine. The EU at the same time clarified that the EU "remains ready to reverse its decisions and reengage with Russia when it starts contributing actively and without ambiguities to finding a solution to the Ukrainian crisis". These 17 March sanctions were the most wide-ranging sanctions used against Russia since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union. Japan also announced sanctions against Russia, which included the suspension of talks regarding military matters, space, investment, and visa requirements. A few days later, the US government expanded the sanctions.
On 19 March, Australia imposed sanctions against Russia after its annexation of Crimea. These sanctions targeted financial dealings and travel bans on those who have been instrumental in the Russian threat to Ukraine's sovereignty. Australian sanctions were expanded on 21 May.
In early April, Albania, Iceland and Montenegro, as well as Ukraine, imposed the same restrictions and travel bans as those of the EU on 17 March. Igor Lukšić, foreign minister of Montenegro, said that despite a "centuries old-tradition" of good ties with Russia, joining the EU in imposing sanctions had "always been the only reasonable choice". Slightly earlier in March, Moldova imposed the same sanctions against former president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych and a number of former Ukrainian officials, as announced by the EU on 5 March.
In response to the sanctions introduced by the United States and the EU, the State Duma (Russian parliament) unanimously passed a resolution asking for all members of the Duma be included on the sanctions list. The sanctions were expanded to include prominent Russian businessmen and women a few days later.
Second round: April 2014Edit
On 10 April, the Council of Europe suspended the voting rights of Russia's delegation.
On 28 April, the United States imposed a ban on business transactions within its territory on 7 Russian officials, including Igor Sechin, executive chairman of the Russian state oil company Rosneft, and 17 Russian companies.
On the same day, the EU issued travel bans against a further 15 individuals. The EU also stated the aims of EU sanctions as:
sanctions are not punitive, but designed to bring about a change in policy or activity by the target country, entities or individuals. Measures are therefore always targeted at such policies or activities, the means to conduct them and those responsible for them. At the same time, the EU makes every effort to minimise adverse consequences for the civilian population or for legitimate activities.
Third round: 2014–presentEdit
In response to the escalating War in Donbass, on 17 July 2014 the United States extended its transactions ban to two major Russian energy firms, Rosneft and Novatek, and to two banks, Gazprombank and Vnesheconombank. United States also urged EU leaders to join the third wave leading EU to start drafting European sanctions a day before. On 25 July, the EU officially expanded its sanctions to an additional 15 individuals and 18 entities, followed by an additional eight individuals and three entities on 30 July. On 31 July 2014 the EU introduced the third round of sanctions which included an embargo on arms and related material, and embargo on dual-use goods and technology intended for military use or a military end user, a ban on imports of arms and related material, controls on export of equipment for the oil industry, and a restriction on the issuance of and trade in certain bonds, equity or similar financial instruments on a maturity greater than 90 days (In September 2014 lowered to 30 days) 
On 5 August 2014, Japan froze the assets of "individuals and groups supporting the separation of Crimea from Ukraine" and restrict imports from Crimea. Japan also froze funds for new projects in Russia in line with the policy of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
On 12 August 2014, Norway adopted the tougher sanctions against Russia that were imposed by the EU and the United States on 12 August 2014. Although Norway is not a part of the EU, the Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende said that it would impose restrictions similar to the EU's 1 August sanctions. Russian state-owned banks will be banned from taking long-term and mid-term loans, arms exports will be banned and supplies of equipment, technology and assistance to the Russian oil sector will be prohibited.
On 14 August 2014, Switzerland expanded sanctions against Russia over its threat to Ukraine's sovereignty. Swiss government added 26 more Russians and pro-Russian Ukrainians to the list of sanctioned Russian citizens that was first announced after Russia's annexation of Crimea. On 27 August 2014 Switzerland further expanded their sanctions against Russia. The Swiss government said it is expanding measures to prevent the circumvention of sanctions relating to the situation in Ukraine to include the third round of sanctions imposed by the EU in July. The Swiss government also stated that 5 Russian banks (Sberbank, VTB, Vnesheconombank (VEB), Gazprombank and Rosselkhoz) will require authorisation to issue long-term financial instruments in Switzerland. On 28 August 2014, Switzerland amended its sanctions to include the sanctions imposed by the EU in July.
On 14 August 2014, Ukraine passed a law introducing Ukrainian sanctions against Russia. The law includes 172 individuals and 65 entities in Russia and other countries for supporting and financing "terrorism" in Ukraine, though actual sanctions would need approval from Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council.
On 11 September 2014, US President Obama said that the United States would join the EU in imposing tougher sanctions on Russia's financial, energy and defence sectors. On 12 September 2014, the United States imposed sanctions on Russia's largest bank (Sberbank), a major arms maker and arctic (Rostec), deepwater and shale exploration by its biggest oil companies (Gazprom, Gazprom Neft, Lukoil, Surgutneftegas and Rosneft). Sberbank and Rostec will have limited ability to access the US debt markets. The sanction on the oil companies seek to ban co-operation with Russian oil firms on energy technology and services by companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP Plc.
On 24 September 2014, Japan banned the issue of securities by 5 Russian banks (Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, Rosselkhozbank and development bank VEB) and also tightened restrictions on defence exports to Russia.
On 3 October 2014, US Vice President Joe Biden said that "It was America's leadership and the president of the United States insisting, oft times almost having to embarrass Europe to stand up and take economic hits to impose costs" and added that "And the results have been massive capital flight from Russia, a virtual freeze on foreign direct investment, a ruble at an all-time low against the dollar, and the Russian economy teetering on the brink of recession. We don't want Russia to collapse. We want Russia to succeed. But Putin has to make a choice. These asymmetrical advances on another country cannot be tolerated. The international system will collapse if they are."
On 18 December 2014, the EU banned some investments in Crimea, halting support for Russian Black Sea oil and gas exploration and stopping European companies from purchasing real estate or companies in Crimea, or offering tourism services. On 19 December 2014, US President Obama imposed sanctions on Russian-occupied Crimea by executive order prohibiting exports of US goods and services to the region.
On 16 February 2015, the EU increased its sanction list to cover 151 individuals and 37 entities. Australia indicated that it would follow the EU in a new round of sanctions. If the EU sanctioned new Russian and Ukrainian entities then Australia would keep their sanctions in line with the EU.
On 18 February 2015, Canada added 37 Russian citizens and 17 Russian entities to its sanction list. Rosneft and the deputy minister of defence, Anatoly Antonov, were both sanctioned. In June 2015 Canada added three individuals and 14 entities, including Gazprom. Media suggested the sanctions were delayed because Gazprom was a main sponsor of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup then concluding in Canada.
In September 2015, Ukraine sanctioned more than 388 individuals, over 105 companies and other entities. In accordance with the August 2015 proposals promulgated by the Security Service of Ukraine and the Order of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 808-p dated August 12, 2015, Ukraine, on September 2, 2015, declared Russia an enemy of Ukraine. Also on September 16, 2015, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko issued a decree that named nearly 400 individuals, more than 90 companies and other entities to be sanctioned for the Russia's "criminal activities and aggression against Ukraine."
Sanctions against CrimeaEdit
The United States, Canada, the European Union and other European countries (including Ukraine) imposed economic sanctions specifically targeting Crimea. Sanctions prohibit the sale, supply, transfer, or export of goods and technology in several sectors, including services directly related to tourism and infrastructure. They list seven ports where cruise ships cannot dock. Sanctions against Crimean individuals include travel bans and asset freezes. Visa and MasterCard have stopped service in Crimea between December 2014 and April 2015.
Sanctions over Ukrainians held by RussiaEdit
In April 2016, Lithuania sanctioned 46 individuals who were involved in the detention and sentencing of Ukrainian citizens Nadiya Savchenko, Oleh Sentsov, and Olexandr Kolchenko. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said that his country wanted to "focus attention on the unacceptable and cynical violations of international law and human rights in Russia. [...] It would be more effective if the blacklist became Europe-wide. We hope to start such a discussion."
Opposition to sanctionsEdit
Italy, Hungary, Greece, France, Cyprus and Slovakia are among the EU states most skeptical about the sanctions and have called for review of sanctions. The Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stated that Europe "shot itself in the foot" by introducing economic sanctions. Former Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov stated, "I don't know how Russia is affected by the sanctions, but Bulgaria is affected severely"; Czech President Miloš Zeman[better source needed] and Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico also said that the sanctions should be lifted. In October 2017, the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó added that the sanctions "were totally unsuccessful because Russia is not on its knees economically, but also because there have been many harms to our own economies and, politically speaking, we have had no real forward progress regarding the Minsk agreement".
In 2015, the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras repeatedly said that Greece would seek to mend ties between Russia and EU through European institutions. Tsipras also said that Greece was not in favour of Western sanctions imposed on Russia, adding that it risked the start of another Cold War.
A number of business figures in France and Germany have opposed the sanctions. The German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that the Ukrainian crisis should be resolved by dialogue rather than economic confrontation, later adding that the reinforcement of anti-Russian sanctions will "provoke an even more dangerous situation… in Europe".
Paolo Gentiloni, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that the sanctions "are not the solution to the conflict". In January 2017, Swiss Economics Minister and former President of Switzerland Johann Schneider-Ammann stated his concern about the sanctions' harm to the Swiss economy, and expressed hope that they will soon come to an end. Some companies, most notably Siemens Gas Turbine Technologies LLC, were reported to attempt bypassing the sanctions and exporting power generation turbines to the annexed Crimea.
In August 2015, the British think tank Bow Group released a report on sanctions, calling for the removal of them. According to the report, the sanctions have had "adverse consequences for European and American businesses, and if they are prolonged... they can have even more deleterious effects in the future"; the potential cost of sanctions for the Western countries has been estimated as over $700 billion.
In June 2017, Germany and Austria criticized the U.S. Senate over new sanctions against Russia that target the planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, stating that the United States was threatening Europe's energy supplies (see also Russia in the European energy sector). In a joint statement Austria's Chancellor Christian Kern and Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that "Europe's energy supply is a matter for Europe, and not for the United States of America." They also said: "To threaten companies from Germany, Austria and other European states with penalties on the U.S. market if they participate in natural gas projects such as Nord Stream 2 with Russia or finance them introduces a completely new and very negative quality into European-American relations."
In May 2018, the vice chairman of Free Democratic Party of Germany and the Vice President of the Bundestag Wolfgang Kubicki said that Germany should "take a first step towards Russia with the easing of the economic sanctions" because "this can be decided by Germany alone" and "does not need the consent of others".
In February 2019, advisor to Municipal Councilor of Municipality of Verona, member of House of Representatives Vito Comencini said that the anti-Russian sanctions have caused significant damage to the Italian economy, with the result that the country suffers losses every day in the amount of millions of euros.
Efforts to lift sanctionsEdit
In June 2016, the French Senate voted to urge its government to "gradually and partially" lift the EU sanctions on Russia, although the vote was non-binding.
However, in September 2016, the EU extended its sanctions, for another six months, against Russian officials and pro-Moscow separatists in Ukraine. An EU asset freeze on ex-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was upheld by the bloc's courts. On 13 March 2017, the EU extended the asset freeze and travel bans on 150 people until September 2017. The sanctions include Yanukovych and senior members of his administration.
On 19 June 2017, the EU again extended sanctions for another year that prohibit EU businesses from investing in Crimea, and which target tourism and imports of products from Crimea.
In November 2017, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland said that the Council of Europe considered lifting the sanctions on Russia due to concerns that Russia may leave the organization, which would be "a big step back for Europe". Jagland was also criticized of "caving in to blackmail" by other Council members for his conciliatory approach to Russia.
On 9 October 2018, the Council's parliamentary assembly voted to postpone the decision on whether Russia's voting rights should be restored.
Other sanctions on RussiaEdit
In December 2012, the United States enacted the Magnitsky Act, intended to punish Russian officials responsible for the death of Russian tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison in 2009 by prohibiting their entrance to the United States and their use of its banking system. 18 individuals were originally affected by the Act. In December 2016, Congress enacted the Global Magnitsky Act to allow the US Government to sanction foreign government officials implicated in human rights abuses anywhere in the world. On December 21, 2017, 13 additional names were added to the list of sanctioned individuals, not just Russians. Other countries passed similar laws to ban foreigners deemed guilty of human rights abuses from entering their countries.
On December 29, 2016, US President Barack Obama signed an order that expels 35 Russian diplomats, locks down two Russian diplomatic compounds, and expands sanctions against Russia for its interference in the 2016 United States elections.
In August 2017, United States Congress passed the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act that imposed new sanctions on Russia for interference in the 2016 elections and its involvement in Ukraine and Syria. The Act prevents the easing, suspending or ending of sanctions by the President without the approval of the United States Congress. On March 15, 2018, Trump imposed financial sanctions under the Act on the 13 Russian government hackers and front organizations that had been indicted by Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.
In March 2018, 29 Western countries and NATO expelled in total at least 149 Russian diplomats, including 60 by the United States, in response to the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter on March 4 in the United Kingdom, which has been blamed on Russia. Other measures were also taken.
On April 6, 2018, the United States imposed economic sanctions on seven Russian oligarchs and 12 companies they control, accusing them of "malign activity around the globe", along with 17 top Russian officials, the state-owned weapons-trading company Rosoboronexport and Russian Financial Corporation Bank (RFC Bank). High-profile names on the list include Oleg Deripaska and Kiril Shamalov, Putin's ex-son-in-law, who married Putin's daughter Katerina Tikhonova in February 2013. The press release stated: "Deripaska has been investigated for money laundering, and has been accused of threatening the lives of business rivals, illegally wiretapping a government official, and taking part in extortion and racketeering. There are also allegations that Deripaska bribed a government official, ordered the murder of a businessman, and had links to a Russian organized crime group." Other names on the list include: Oil tycoon Vladimir Bogdanov, Suleiman Kerimov, who faces money-laundering charges in France for allegedly bringing hundreds of millions of euros into the country without reporting the money to tax authorities, Igor Rotenberg, principal owner of Russian oil and gas drilling company Gazprom Burenie, Andrei Skoch, a deputy in the State Duma. U.S. officials said he has longstanding ties to Russian organized criminal groups, Viktor Vekselberg, founder and chairman of the Renova Group, asset management company, and Aleksandr Torshin.
In August 2018 following the poisoning of Sergey Skripal, U.S Department of Commerce imposed further sanctions on dual-use exports to Russia which deemed to be sensitive on national security grounds, including gas turbine engines, integrated circuits, and calibration equipment used in avionics. Until that moment, such exports were considered on a case-by-case basis. Following the introduction of these sanctions, the default position is of denial. Also, on September that year list of companies in the space and defense industry came under sanctions, including: AeroComposit, Divetechnoservices, Scientific-Research Institute “Vektor”, Nilco Group, Obinsk Research and Production Enterprise, Aviadvigatel, Information Technology and Communication Systems (Infoteks), Scientific and Production Corporation of Precision Instruments Engineering and Voronezh Scientific Research Institute “Vega“, whom are forbidden from doing business with.
Consequences and assessmentEdit
The sanctions introduced both by and against Russia slowed down the trade between Russia and EU, causing damage to both Russian and European economy.
Effect on RussiaEdit
This section needs to be updated.August 2016)(
The economic sanctions are generally believed to have helped weaken the Russian economy and to intensify the challenges that Russia was already facing.
A 2015 data analysis confirmed Russia's entry into a recession, with negative GDP growth of -2.2% for the first quarter of 2015, as compared to the first quarter of 2014. Further, the combined effect of the sanctions and the rapid decline in oil prices in 2014 has caused significant downward pressure on the value of the ruble and flight of capital out of Russia. At the same time, the sanctions on access to financing have forced Russia to use part of its foreign exchange reserves to prop up the economy. These events forced the Central Bank of Russia to stop supporting the value of the ruble and increase interest rates.
Russia's ban on western imports had the additional effect on these challenging events as the embargo led to higher food prices and further inflation in addition to the effects of decreased value of the ruble which had already raised the price of imported goods.
Effect on US and EU countriesEdit
As of 2015, the losses of EU have been estimated as €100 billion. The German business sector, with around 30,000 workplaces depending on trade with Russia, also reported being affected by the sanctions. The sanctions affected numerous European market sectors, including energy, agriculture, and aviation. In March 2016, the Finnish farmers' union MTK stated that the Russian sanctions and falling prices have put farmers under tremendous pressure. Finland's Natural Resources Institute LUKE has estimated that last year farmers saw their incomes shrink by 40 percent compared to the previous year.
In 2017, the UN Special Rapporteur Idriss Jazairy published a report on the impact of sanctions, stating that the EU countries were losing about "3.2 billion dollars a month" due to them. He also noted that the sanctions were "intended to serve as a deterrent to Russia but run the risk of being only a deterrent to the international business community, while adversely affecting only those vulnerable groups which have nothing to do with the crisis" (especially people in Crimea, who "should not be made to pay collectively for what is a complex political crisis over which they have no control").
Three days after the first sanctions against Russia, on 20 March 2014, the Russian Foreign Ministry published a list of reciprocal sanctions against certain American citizens, which consisted of ten names, including Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, Senator John McCain, and two advisers to Barack Obama. The ministry said in the statement, "Treating our country in such way, as Washington could have already ascertained, is inappropriate and counterproductive", and reiterated that sanctions against Russia would have a boomerang effect. On 24 March, Russia banned thirteen Canadian officials, including members of the Parliament of Canada, from entering the country.
On 6 August 2014, Putin signed a decree "On the use of specific economic measures", which mandated an effective embargo for a one-year period on imports of most of the agricultural products whose country of origin had either "adopted the decision on introduction of economic sanctions in respect of Russian legal and (or) physical entities, or joined same". The next day, the Russian government ordinance was adopted and published with immediate effect, which specified the banned items as well as the countries of provenance: the United States, the EU, Norway, Canada and Australia, including a ban on fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, milk and dairy imports. Prior to the embargo, food exports from the EU to Russia were worth around €11.8 billion, or 10% of the total EU exports to Russia. Food exports from the United States to Russia were worth around €972 million. Food exports from Canada were worth around €385 million. Food exports from Australia, mainly meat and live cattle, were worth around €170 million per year.
Russia had previously taken a position that it would not engage in "tit-for-tat" sanctions, but, announcing the embargo, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said, "There is nothing good in sanctions and it was not an easy decision to take, but we had to do it." He indicated that sanctions relating to the transport manufacturing sector were also being considered. United States Treasury spokesperson David Cohen said that sanctions affecting access to food were "not something that the US and its allies would ever do".
In January 2015, it became clear that Russian authorities would not allow a Member of the European Parliament, Lithuanian MEP Gabrielius Landsbergis, make a visit to Moscow due to political reasons.
In March 2015, Latvian MEP Sandra Kalniete and Speaker of the Polish Senate Bogdan Borusewicz were both denied entry into Russia under the existing sanctions regime, and were thus unable to attend the funeral of murdered opposition politician Boris Nemtsov.
After a member of the German Bundestag was denied entry into Russia in May 2015, Russia released a blacklist to European Union governments of 89 politicians and officials from the EU who are not allowed entry into Russia under the present sanctions regime. Russia asked for the blacklist to not be made public. The list is said to include eight Swedes, as well as two MPs and two MEPs from the Netherlands. Finland's national broadcaster Yle published a leaked German version of the list.
In response to this publication, British politician Malcolm Rifkind (whose name was included on the Russian list) commented: "It shows we are making an impact because they wouldn't have reacted unless they felt very sore at what had happened. Once sanctions were extended, they've had a major impact on the Russian economy. This has happened at a time when the oil price has collapsed and therefore a main source of revenue for Mr Putin has disappeared. That's pretty important when it comes to his attempts to build up his military might and to force his neighbours to do what they're told." He added, "If there had to be such a ban, I am rather proud to be on it – I'd be rather miffed if I wasn't." Another person on the list, Swedish MEP Gunnar Hökmark, remarked that he was proud to be on the list and said "a regime that does this does it because it is afraid, and at heart it is weak".
With regard to Russia′s entry ban on European politicians, a spokesperson from the EU said, "The list with 89 names has now been shared by the Russian authorities. We don't have any other information on legal basis, criteria and process of this decision. We consider this measure as totally arbitrary and unjustified, especially in the absence of any further clarification and transparency."
On 29 June 2016, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a decree that extended the embargo on the countries already sanctioned until 31 December 2017.
List of sanctioned individualsEdit
Sanctioned individuals include notable and high-level central government personnel on all sides. In addition, companies suggested for possible involvement in the controversial issues have also been sanctioned.
- Liubov Nepop, the Head of the Ukrainian Mission to the EU, and Petro Poroshenko, the president of Ukraine
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