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TOPIC: sanctions

In The News

Macron & Biden’s New Deal, N. Korea Sanctions, Slower Fast Food

👋 ନମସ୍କାର*

Welcome to Friday, where the Kremlin says Vladimir Putin is open to talks on Ukraine if the West accepts Moscow’s demands, North Korea is hit with fresh sanctions in the wake of its recent missile tests, and “Viva Magenta” is Pantone’s Color of the Year. Meanwhile, a Russian political scientist tells independent website Vazhnyye Istorii/Important Stories why he thinks Russia is unlikely to collapse — even if Putin loses.

[*Namaskār - Odia, India]

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Fight Over Tourist Visa Ban For Russians Is Taking Everyone For A Ride

High on the agenda of the Prague summit of Europe’s foreign ministers this week was a proposal to ban tourist visas for Russians, as punishment for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. But it is ultimately a way to change the subject, and recalls Zelensky’s iconic remark after the war began.

It’s not a new question. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had called for a ban on tourist visa for Russian soon after the war began, and this week it became the center of the Prague summit of European Union foreign ministers.

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Some European Union nations voiced their support soon after it was mentioned by Zelensky, including former Soviet republics and current Russia neighbors, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. They were followed by Finland and the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Poland. Hungary, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus. Germany and France are looking for a compromise that would allow for visas for students, workers of culture and science, as well as people who need entry for humanitarian reason. Perhaps most importantly, however, the U.S. took an unambiguous position against the restrictions.

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Stolen Arches, IKEAish? What Western Sanctions Mean For Brand Trademarks In Russia

The exit of top international companies from the Russian market in response to the invasion of Ukraine has led to an unraveling of Moscow's intellectual property standards.

-Analysis-

Yes, we shall live, Uncle Vanya. Could Anton Chekhov ever have imagined that his literary work would be used to sell hamburgers? In March, a controversial application for an “Uncle Vanya” mark in connection with “snack bars, cafes, cafeterias, restaurants, bar services, canteens, cooking and home delivery services,” incorporated the red-and-yellow golden arches logo of McDonald’s. It was just one in a series of recent applications in Russia that have caused serious pearl-clutching among intellectual property lawyers.

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Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, the country has faced numerous financial, trade and travel sanctions. It’s also been snubbed by major intellectual property partners. In a February 28 letter, a group of whistleblowers and staff representatives at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) called for the entity’s public condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the rapid closure of its Russia Office.

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What A Nuclear Deal Could Mean For Iran's Broken Economy

Ordinary Iranians are hoping for a speck of economic relief and nothing more, if Tehran can sign a nuclear deal with world powers that could alleviate longstanding sanctions.

-Analysis-

As the fate of talks on Iran's nuclear activities remains uncertain, millions of Iranians are hoping, cautiously, that a deal with the West could help alleviate a range of socio-economic problems. Some economic agents hope a deal to renew the 2015 nuclear pact will boost business, travel and spending. Others insist a no-deal is still better than prolonged uncertainty. The question remains, even with a deal that will soften the sanctions on Iran, can Iranians expect even a measure of prosperity in an economy that is restricted, dysfunctional and beset with opaque procedures and massive cronyism?

For over 20 years, the Iranian regime's cat-and-mouse game with the world over its disconcerting nuclear program, suspected money-laundering and support for regional militias and hitmen, have earned it a range of sanctions on Iran's economy and financial system. The regime has furthermore refused to sign the FATF or international pact to block terrorist and criminal finances.

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Geopolitics
Christian Putsch

How Putin Played The Africa Card Just Right

African countries have mostly stayed quiet on the war in Ukraine. And with good reason. Western influence is diminishing on the continent, and Russian President Vladimir Putin knows how to push the right buttons of African autocrats.

-Analysis-

On his return from a visit to Russia in June, Senegalese President Macky Sall made a momentous statement. He declared that most African countries have avoided condemning Russia, “despite enormous pressure.” His pride in this stance was obvious, and his words confirmed a suspicion that political leaders across Europe and in the U.S. have long held about African attitudes towards the West.

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In March and April, when the United Nations was voting on which sanctions to impose on Russia in response to its attack on Ukraine, around half of the African countries abstained. Many did not even attend the vote. Sall also repeated Moscow’s misleading claims that the sudden shortage of wheat and fertilizer across the Global South was not caused by the war in Ukraine, but by Western sanctions. In fact, the West had not restricted the trade of these products.

Sall was not only speaking for his own country, Senegal. As current Chairperson of the African Union – which recently turned down Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s request to address them via video link – he represents the entire continent of Africa.

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In The News
Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

U.S.-Russia Prisoner Swap, Earth Overshoot Day, Meta Drop

👋 Ćao!*

Welcome to Thursday, where the White House and the Kremlin discuss a prisoner swap, Earth Overshoot Day tells us we keep living beyond our Earth’s means, and Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta takes a $2.8-billion dip. Meanwhile, Eleonora Camilli in Italian magazine L’Essenziale focuses on how the children of immigrants are seeking a new path to obtain Italian citizenship.

[*Montenegrin]

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In The News
Anna Akage, Anne-Sophie Goninet, and Emma Albright

EU’s One-Two Punch At Russia — Sanctions Extended To 2023, Gas Imports Cut 15%

The European Union has renewed its sanctions against Russia until the end of January 2023, while also taking a major step to try to reduce dependency on Russian energy exports.

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The EU energy ministers were in Brussels today for a special Energy Council, and were tasked with renewing a wide range of sanctions for another six months that include restrictions on finance, energy, technology, transport and luxury goods. First introduced in 2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the tariffs were widely expanded after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.

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In The News
Cameron Manley and Emma Albright

What The Grain Deal To End Russia’s Blockade Will And Will Not Include

The accord between Kyiv and Moscow has been in the works all week, signing today in Istanbul.

The Kremlin has confirmed that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is in Istanbul today to sign a UN-backed deal with Ukraine over grain exports that could put an end to what the West has called Moscow’s “weaponizing” of food in the war against Kyiv.

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Ukraine
Yann Duvert

How The War In Ukraine Turned The World Of Sport Upside Down

The Russian invasion of Ukraine forced the sport world to abandon its long-held political neutrality, including the Olympics and FIFA. Is this a one-off event or a sign of a fundamental shift in sport?

With hands clasped across his lap and slumped in his seat, Vladimir Putin slept. At least, that’s what he wanted people to believe when the Ukrainian delegation started its parade during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Putin slept, and the whole world went tense, worried about this new provocation in the context of escalating tensions between Moscow and Kyiv. It is Feb. 4, 2022: 20 days later, thousands of Russian soldiers crossed the Ukrainian border, marking the beginning of a long conflict with many consequences. Among the most unexpected, the myth of the political neutrality of the sports world exploded.

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"The Olympic Movement is facing a dilemma with the war currently raging in Ukraine," admitted Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), on Feb 28. Should we follow the line inherited from Pierre de Coubertin, making sport a tool for bringing people together, "beyond any political dispute?" Or should we focus on fairness, while the Ukrainian athletes cannot train, unlike their Russian opponents?

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Economy
Benjamin Quénelle

How Much Longer Can The Russian Economy Survive Sanctions?

The head of the Kremlin boasted at the recent forum in St. Petersburg International Economic Forum about Russia’s economic resilience against Western sanctions. But behind the scenes, Russian business leaders tell a different story.

-Analysis-

MOSCOW — "The most effective sanction to weaken the Kremlin? Not to target us and punish us, but to give us visas instead ... to abandon the sinking the ship!" This businessman's iconoclastic perspective embodies the anxiety one could detect percolating just below the surface at the "Russian Davos" Forum in St. Petersburg last week.

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Officially called the "International" Economic Forum, the annual event organized by Vladimir Putin is meant to attract foreign investors — but this year, the elite of the national business community were cut off from the rest of the world. "Just among Russians... And forced to line up behind the regime and its economic strategies that lead us to a dead end," says the same source, a Russian manager in one of the main state-owned companies.

Like so many others, this man in his 40s, a typical representative of the new upper middle class, with a foreign passport in hand, educated in the West, liberal and multilingual, discovered his name on the lists of Western sanctions. Directly or indirectly, a large part of the Russian business world has been caught up in the European and U.S. sanctions against Moscow.

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In The News
McKenna Johnson, Joel Silvestri, Lisa Berdet and Lila Paulou

EU Leaders In Kyiv, Israeli Gas Deal, Tesla Warning

👋 Ello-hay!*

Welcome to Thursday, where France’s Macron, Germany’s Scholz and Italy’s Draghi all arrive in Kyiv, the EU secures a deal to wean itself off Russian gas, there’s sign of LGBTQ+ progress in Thailand and data warns about Tesla driver-assisted cars crashing. Meanwhile, for Ukraine media Livy Bereg, Oleksandr Detsyk analyzes the tricky art of hitting Russia with the right sanctions so as not to trigger a global economic crisis.

[*Pig Latin]

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Economy
Oleksandr Detsyk

As Global Economy Tanks, Future Russian Sanctions Get Harder For West To Swallow

Kyiv wants the West to hit at the heart of the Russian economy, especially its energy exports, as the best weapon Ukraine and its allies may have. But with the EU preparing its 7th package of sanctions, it must strike a delicate balance as the global economy is on the brink of a major crisis.

- Analysis-

KYIV — The European Union has begun work on its seventh package of sanctions against Russia. Even though the EU is delaying the implementation of more effective oil and gas sanctions, Russia is expected to face a tangible economic downturn in the summer. Therefore, a full-scale financial crisis is likely to take place in autumn.

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According to the most modest estimates, Russia will lose up to 10% of GDP. Personal incomes will decrease by 20-25%. Inflation will be above 10%. The numbers may seem relatively low, but the Russians did not experience this even in the worst years of their recent history, 1993 and 1998.

“Sanctions do not have a one-time effect. This is such a multi-level process," says Ukrainian economist Oleksiy Kushch. "I think there will eventually be more than ten different sanctions packages. Currently we are only in the first third of what's to come."

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