The expanded U.S. and European sanctions against key Russian sectors has been met with a firm response from Russia. The Russian Prime Minister recently announced that food imports from the United States and the European Union would be banned, effective immediately. The Russians have been hard hit by sanctions following their support of pro-Russian militia in Eastern Ukraine, and the downing of a Malaysia Airlines commercial jet where 298 people were killed.
The biting Western sanctions are an attempt to punish Russia for its meddling in the affairs of the Ukraine, vis-à-vis the annexation of Crimea. The Russian riposte to the sanctions was announced by Prime Minister Medvedev, and ordered by President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday 6 August. The ban now includes a wide range of products including dairy products, fish, vegetables, poultry, fruit, pork, and beef. The terms of the ban are valid for 1 year, and include the following countries and territories: the EU, Norway, Canada, the US and Australia. Russia added that the ban could be renewed for an additional year, if deemed necessary.
The Russian economy has taken several hard hits in 2014, as foreign currency reserves continue to decline sharply, the ruble is under pressure in international markets and capital flight threatens to derail any hope of economic growth for the year. Sanctions against Russia have impacted heavily on the oil, finance and defense sectors. The Russian government is considering further retaliatory measures in the form of flight bans for U.S. and European air carriers. As it stands, Russia has imposed bans against Ukrainian airlines from making transit flights in Russia. The Russians are unlikely to be adversely affected by the food import ban, since most of their food imports come from former Soviet countries. Eastern European farmers exported an estimated €8.8 billion to Russia during 2013, and while substantial it pales in comparison to total food exports from the region.
The sanctions against Russia are designed to stop Putin from meddling in the Ukraine, but he appears to be pushing back hard with reports of up to 20,000 Russian soldiers massing near the border. The jury is out about whether sanctions are the best way to deal with Russia’s intransigence. Talk of setting up a more robust form of deterrence includes a missile defensive shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, or perhaps even expanding NATO’s influence in the region. There certainly is merit in seeking a broad coalition to enforce economic and travel restrictions against key figures in Russia. [/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]