Two packages of sanctions against Russia officially came into force today: the resolution of the Council of the European Union to extends sanctions against Russia until June 23, 2018, in connection with the 'illegal annexation' of Crimea and Sevastopol, which was adopted two days earlier, as well as the sanctions of US Department of the Treasury
imposed against Russian citizens and organizations over Donbass.
The resolution of the Council of the EU was published in the Official Journal of the European Union yesterday. This category of sanctions includes prohibitions on imports of products originating in Crimea or Sevastopol into the EU, investment in Crimea or Sevastopol, tourism services in Crimea or Sevastopol, and exports of certain goods and technologies to Crimean companies or for use in Crimea in the transport, telecommunications and energy sectors and related to the prospection, exploration and production of oil, gas and mineral resources.
"The EU continues to condemn the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation and remains committed to fully implement its non-recognition policy," the Council said in the resolution.
On Tuesday, the US Department of the Treasury added 19 organizations and 19 individuals to the sanction list. Among the blacklisted Russian nationals are Deputy Minister of Economic Development Sergey Nazarov, member of Russia’s Federation Council upper parliament house and Russian president’s envoy for relations with organizations of compatriots abroad Alexander Babakov and his two aides, namely Alexander Vorobyov and Mikhail Plisyuk. Apart from that, sanctions were imposed on 11 individuals and organizations from Crimea the United States keeps on considering a Ukrainian territory.
The Department of the Treasury also has put on its blacklist the Wolf Holding of Security Structures.
The US is imposing further anti-Russian sanctions for no apparent reason and such Russophobia is regrettable, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said yesterday after talks with his visiting French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian.
"It is no way helps to improve the atmosphere. The sanctions were imposed for no apparent reason, again," he noted. "References to the city in Ukraine, to my mind, only make all serious expert smile."
According to the Russian top diplomat, EU partners are "hiding behind an insincere formula: the sanctions will be lifted as soon as Russia implements the Minsk agreements." "We invite our friends in the European Union to once again read the Minsk agreements which have it quite clearly who must do what and in which sequence," he said.
"So, I can express nothing but regrets about such Russophobic mania of our American colleagues. It goes beyond all bound," Lavrov stressed.
The deputy dean of the Faculty of Global Economics and International Affairs of the Higher School of Economics of the National Research University, Andrei Suzdaltsev, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the West continues to conduct political negotiations with Russia through sanctions. "Sanctions that were introduced now do not differ from the previous ones. Almost every six months they are supplemented, they are not withdrawn or facilitated. But they do not affect our economy as much as they are a prelude to the big bargaining linked to Russia's position at the energy market of the European Union. The US does not like Russia's large share at this market, so we are facing a greater degree of competition than politics, but it is being solved by political methods: they try to prove that Russian gas is politically dangerous," he stressed.
"The new sanctions confirm President Vladimir Putin's words that sanctions have always been imposed - both against the Russian Empire, against the Soviet Union and against modern Russia. There are complex processes linked to a struggle for money and consumers behind them," Andrey Suzdaltsev pointed out, adding that the West does not guarantee the lifting of sanctions even if Russia fulfills all its requirements.
The deputy director of the Institute of the CIS, Vladimir Zharikhin, expressed confidence that these sanctions documents will not cause tangible harm to the Russian economy and politics. "As for the extension of the European sanctions, it seems that Russia has already adapted to them, so we should not expect any negative impact of them. The most sensitive US sanctions have not been introduced yet - the House of Representatives will be considering them for a long time. Substantial changes that will significantly change the situation and the degree of negative impact of US sanctions on Russia could be introduced," he said.
In general, according to his assessment, an active political struggle is under way around Western anti-Russian sanctions. "Some politicians talk about the need to ease sanctions, but others, in particular, American senators, are determined to tighten them. In such a situation it is difficult to say that there is any general opinion about the future of restrictions on Russia - there is a political struggle over this issue," Vladimir Zharikhin concluded.