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Russia

What Kind Of Sanctions Would Hurt Russia Most?

A look from inside Russia at the prospect of an Iran-style oil embargo, travel bans and other measures the West could apply to make Moscow pay for their policy in Ukraine.

In Moscow
In Moscow
Aleksander Sotin

MOSCOW — At the beginning of March, the idea of international sanctions against Russia seemed like mere speculation. But if Crimea decides to join Russia on March 16, threats of international isolation could become a reality.

“We are considering a whole series of steps — economic, diplomatic — that will isolate Russia and will have a negative impact on the Russian economy and its status,” U.S. President Barack Obama declared. A source close to Secretary of State John Kerry said that sanctions could begin in a matter of days.

The rhetoric from Western European leaders has been less harsh, but the level of interdependence between Russia and Western Europe is also much higher. Nevertheless, Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague said that Russia would pay a high price if it did not reverse course on Crimea.

Russian diplomats seem to be convinced that it won’t come to sanctions. The Russian ambassador to the EU said that legally speaking, international sanctions can only be put into place by the United Nations Security Council, and that anything else would simply be considered actions taken by individual countries.

Among the “softer” measures that other countries could take are a boycott of the G8 meeting in Sochi and the permanent exclusion of Russia from the club of “developed countries.” The United States could also stop negotiations regarding free trade between the two countries (an agreement regarding the creation of a free trade zone between Russia and U.S. was signed at the end of 2013). Free trade would reduce burdens on business between the two countries, but now the whole agreement is in question.

Military cooperation has also been cut off. The United States and Canada have both announced that they will no longer cooperate with Russia. NATO has ended all military contacts with Russia, the alliance’s General Secretary announced.

But there are other sanctions that would hurt more. Charles Tennock, head of the Commission for International Affairs in the European Parliament, said that Turkey should close the Dardanelles Strait to Russian ships, like it did after the Russian-Georgian war of 2008. “Ankara should close the Turkish straits not only to Russian warships, but to all commercial vessels bound for Russia’s Black Sea ports,” he said.

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Ukrainian protestors stand at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to mark Vyshyvanka Day, an International day to celebrate Ukrainian heritage and traditions

Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Bertrand Hauger.

👋 Guten Tag!*

Welcome to Friday, where Russia intensifies shelling in eastern Ukraine, Biden lands in South Korea, and a Mercedes becomes the most expensive car ever sold. Meanwhile, for German daily die Welt, Cosima Lutz explores the sizzling question of the skyrocketing price of cooking oils.

[*German]

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