Russia’s reaction to the last batch of United States (U.S.) and European sanctions was predictable: an intensification of the rhetoric of the Cold War that has enveloped the entire Ukrainian crisis. A new Cold War will not contribute to the peaceful resolution of the crisis in Ukraine, which Russia has to participate.
It is likely that the new sanctions are counterproductive; too soft to subdue the Russian bear, but enough to provoke him. Addressed to a few people and companies closely linked to Putin, will be annoying, with travel bans and freezing of assets in the West. But it will have little impact on the economy, the only way for a real – sanctions work and not enough to make Putin will reverse its aggressive actions in Ukraine, where obviously believes that Russian interests are sufficiently important to risk a complete isolation from the West.
The Kremlin will have sighed with relief to learn that the sanctions would come to not result in a radical ban on exports of Russian gas and oil, which the country relies heavily. Gazprom is the greatest weapon of the Kremlin in any war with Ukraine and economic sanctions against the oil seriously undermine the Russian government.
The Russian economy is stagnating. A decrease in revenue from fuel exports to Europe could easily lead to a full-blown crisis, which seriously affect the decrepit infrastructure and social services in the country, and perhaps would bring opposition to Putin ‘s government widespread than the young urban professionals who joined the protest rallies of 2011-2013.
And there ‘s the rub. About a third of the gas supply in the EU comes from Russia. In the new democracies of Eastern Europe, the number doubles. Europe can not stop importing oil and gas from Russia without risking a severe economic crisis, and perhaps riots in the poorest countries, which depend heavily on Gazprom. The EU can not accept these sanctions more radical proposed Hawks Washington.
Putin knows that the West is divided, and hence its confidence in this crisis. He knows that – except for a military intervention, there is little the West can do in practice to prevent further weakening Ukraine. As warned last month, if Europe tried to stop buying Russian gas would only ” bleed “.
Europe is not going to sacrifice its commercial interests especially the UK government, which for years has allowed the Russian oligarchs buy mansions, football teams and the London papers, and send their children to colleges and universities British elite.
BP CEO Bob Dudley announced last month that everything would go as usual in Russia. BP has a 20% stake in Rosneft, the Russian state oil company, whose director, Igor Sechin, is included in the latest list of U.S. sanctions.
Progressive Putin confidence is based on more than just political pragmatism of international trade. The crisis in Ukraine has popularity skyrocketing. Last week, Russia’s Levada Center ‘s statistical studies stood at a staggering 82 %, 10 points higher than that recorded after the success of the Olympic Games in Sochi, although not as high as the support of 88 % at the counted in September 2008, just after Russia could beat Georgia in the war in South Ossetia, which is significant. Can we think that it is evil and is crazy, but most ordinary Russians believe that Putin is the kind of strong, patriotic leader that Russia needs to defend its interests in the world.
This is why the penalties are likely to be counterproductive. Will give Putin a timely excuse to justify the economic hardships the country, which are mainly due to the thefts committed by his cronies and waste of the country’s wealth over many years and will help to unite the country under the banner of nationalist regime.
Many of the actions of Putin in Ukraine have much to do with national politics as international. Fearful that the revolution spread Kiev to Moscow, has endorsed the Russian nationalist cause to consolidate its authoritarian regime.
After the Stalinist – powerful rhetoric that fans feelings of anti – Nazism is a dangerous Russian nationalism based on hidden deep resentment towards the West, towards their moral lessons and double standards, and a nostalgic longing for the Soviet Union, whose rupture was described by Putin in 2005 as a Russian national catastrophe in which “tens of millions of fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves suddenly outside the Russian territory.” The pro-Russian eastern Ukraine not only fighting to return to Russia; fight to return to the Soviet Union.
Some ineffective sanctions are not the way to make him do it. You may get the opposite result to Russia, and to adopt a more aggressive stance. But the West should encourage that, so far, Russia has not reached the end of militarily invading Ukraine. Because it indicates that Russia is prepared to talk about Ukraine. And Russia, there will be a lasting solution to this crisis.