The chaos and the fighting continue not only in the Ukrainian territories where Russia has sought a special military campaign to ‘disarm’ and ‘denazify’ the Ukrainian Government (claims which were found to be baseless) but also in the realm of economic and fiscal sanctions designed to cripple Russia’s economy. These sanctions were imposed during the Russian assault on Ukrainian military installations within Ukrainian soil.
— Reuters Pictures (@reuterspictures) February 24, 2022
The United States has imposed the first tranche of economic and fiscal sanctions against Russia, aiming to weaken Russia’s capacity to service its sovereign debt, financial institutions, and several members of the Russian oligarchy. Specifically, it sanctioned Vnesheconombank (VEB) and Promsvyazbank Public Joint Stock Company (PSB), along with 42 of their subsidiaries, so that its ability to pay back its loans and ability to keep the military financed are indefinitely hampered.
It also imposed sanctions on Donetsk and Luhansk after it was initially recognized by Russia as independent and sovereign countries, banning US investments, business, importation, and exportation of any goods or services in and out of the Russian-backed separatist regions.
A number of countries had originally followed suit in order to keep Russia’s military actions punished as Russian troops raged war on Ukrainian soil. These countries included the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, the European Union, and Germany. Some of these sanctions included blacklisting and sanctioning Russian politicians and elites who supported the recognition of the breakaway states, restrictions on trade and investment, blocking of importing and exporting to and from the regions, as well as several sanctions for the top 5 Russian banks so that it would not be able to raise funds in the majority of the West.
Most notably, Germany, through the leadership of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, sided with the West and proceeded to halt the certification process of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline at the cost of its own economy and gas supply which it is in dire need of.
New Countries To Sanction Russia
South Korea is the latest country to join the list of countries that chose to sanction Russia amid its military campaign to ‘protect’ the civilians of the Donbas region who were allegedly being attacked by Ukrainian forces, a claim that has since been debunked by multiple news outlets.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday said that “The use of military force that causes damage of innocent lives cannot be justified in any case,” and would be supporting the international community’s economic and fiscal sanctions against Russia. They are set to impose said sanctions within a few days upon consultation with its allies. However, the South Korean government has been criticized as it was slow and lukewarm toward sanctioning the Russians as it has multiple South Korean companies operating within the Kremlin. Some of these companies include Hyundai Motor, Kia, and Samsung Electronics. Furthermore, the country has been cautious in dealing with Russia due to its ties with North Korea.
In a surprising turn of events, Switzerland has also chosen to indirectly sanction Russia by tightening measures and regulations against Russia and its elites as not to circumvent already existing sanctions by the West and the European Union through their financial system. Swiss President Ignazio Cassis stated that ‘neutrality does not mean indifference’ and condemned the Russian invasion as a ‘severe breach of international law.’
“For reasons of neutrality, Switzerland did not directly adopt sanctions at that time. Today, the government has sharpened its response,” Cassis said. “The EU sanctions issued yesterday are to be integrated into this ordinance in the form of anti-circumvention measures, and individual measures will be tightened, particularly in the financial sector,” he added. Switzerland also adopted the list of banned and sanctioned individuals by the European Union to show solid solidarity with Ukraine.
On the other hand, Lithuania had removed Russian and Belarusian goods from its shelves, specifically Lithuania’s largest grocery retailer, Maxima. The company also stated that it would stop patronizing goods from Russia and Belarus as a response to the Russian aggression. Latvia has also kept up with the sanctions in its own way by halting the issuance of visas to Russian nationals following the invasion. It has also recalled its Russian ambassador from Moscow.
The Vatican, headed by Pope Francis, also did not stay mum on the subject. While it is a country that has limited influence over Russia, its Catholic followers would listen to the holy figure. Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Pietro stated that “There is still room for the exercise of a wisdom that prevents the prevalence of partisan interests, protects the legitimate aspirations of each and spares the world from madness and saves the world from the folly and horrors of war.” This statement is particularly historic as it is the first time the Vatican had not stayed neutral amid a political conflict. “There is still time for goodwill. There is still room for negotiation,” he added.
The Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin lamented on Thursday the “tragic scenes” taking place in Ukraine after Russia’s attack, and said wisdom is needed to save the world “from the folly and horrors of war.” 👉🏻 https://t.co/DpI0SREqWh pic.twitter.com/0LtnG0D7wU
— EWTN Vatican (@EWTNVatican) February 24, 2022
The European Union had also agreed on the second tranche of economic sanctions targeting Russia’s financial, transport, and energy sectors. Details of the sanctions have yet to be published.
“With this package, we will target strategic sectors of the Russian economy by blocking their access to technologies and markets that are key to Russia,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said. “We will weaken Russia’s economic base and its capacity to modernize,” she continued.
US Presiden Joe Biden had met with the Group of Seven allies composed of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, to discuss tougher, unified sanctions against Russia.
Lastly, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had called on the international community to cut Russia from Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) to further hamper its ability to conduct business overseas. SWIFT is a network that connects over 11,000 financial institutions across 200 countries all over the world. It utilizes standardized codes to process transactions and make payments faster, enabling companies to smoothly do business across national borders. If Russia were to be cut from SWIFT, its ability to sell and ship Russian products can be halted until it finds other methods of selling to other countries.
A package of additional tough sanctions against Russia from the EU is approaching. Discussed all the details with @EmmanuelMacron. We demand the disconnection of Russia from SWIFT, the introduction of a no-fly zone over Ukraine and other effective steps to stop the aggressor.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 24, 2022
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