Washington's new Russia sanctions: Why we shouldn't expect shifts in Putin's policy

19:10, 14 August 2018
Politics
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Opinion

Despite the U.S. announcing new sanctions scheduled to be imposed against Russia in August, a rubble collapsing and the stock market falling sharply, one should not rely heavily on the effect of American sanctions against Russia, hoping that they will change the Kremlin's policy. The sanctions policy of the West against Russia has been enforced for four years already but there are no special changes in Moscow's behavior.

In my opinion, in terms of sanctions, Russia has already survived the hardest times

In my opinion, in terms of sanctions, Russia has already survived the hardest times. When global oil prices fell to about $40 per barrel, it was a thing. And now, when the price of oil is more than $70 a barrel, the Russian economy is seeing more revenues. Of course, this is not $110 per barrel, as it was before Russia's aggression against Ukraine, but still, the Russian budget is seeing some money inflows, and Moscow is experiencing fewer shortages and budget failures. Therefore, the behavior of the Kremlin is becoming more brazen. We could see this during a press conference following Putin and Trump's meeting: it is obvious that Putin is happy with how things are going for Moscow - he sees no particular problems.

U.S. sanctions, which will be imposed later in August, will, of course, force the Russian leadership to somewhat sober up, but Putin will still keep his line and pursue his policy.

He has the opportunity not to pay special attention to these sanctions, and not only because of the price of oil, but also because of gas supplies to Europe as Russia will also be pumping it via the northern lines. At the same time, Russia will pay less to Ukraine, and this is also a certain saving for Moscow.

U.S. sanctions, which will be imposed later in August, will, of course, force the Russian leadership to somewhat sober up, but Putin will still keep his line and pursue his policy

Consequently, the confrontation will intensify. Americans are not happy that their policies do not bring the expected results, and everyone can see that. Therefore, the new U.S. sanctions against Russia may be slightly stronger than the previous package, but not so much to radically change the situation. After all, again, they will relate to Putin's entourage, and not all of it. It is clear that it is difficult to do something with Putin's personal income, except for the arrest of his foreign accounts. But no one in the West will go for this.

What can we expect? We hope that Russia will become a little calmer, not so aggressive. But we should not expect anything more.

In general, Russia behaves more arrogantly and therefore reacted emotionally to reports of the new sanctions package, calling them "draconian," while Medvedev warned of the "economic war." Moscow realized that it is taken into account and listened to. Moreover, some even call for Russia to be returned to the G-8. Therefore, Russia feels that it can demand more, so it reacts more aggressively and emotionally. Russia believes that the peak of the confrontation has already passed and now it is possible to win back their positions in the world. This is a reaction caused by self-confidence, not hopelessness.

Volodymyr Lanovyi is a President of the Center for Market Reforms, former Minister of Economy of Ukraine, a PhD in Economics

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