New sanctions over Navalny - can they make a difference?
At a meeting in Brussels the foreign ministers of EU states introduced new sanctions against Russian officials over the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. In the coming weeks those deemed responsible for Navalny's imprisonment will be confronted with EU travel bans and having their assets frozen.
For the Süddeutsche Zeitung the most recent sanctions are nothing more than an expression of cluelessness:
“In reality the punitive measures no longer have any practical effect. Russia has been over-sanctioned to the point of ineffectiveness. ... The Trump administration with its third-party sanctions had already pushed punishment policy ad absurdum. Russia is now showing the world how to become immune to sanctions. A form of analgesia seems to have set in. Either the EU has to tighten the screws (by stopping Nord Stream 2) or it has to find other levers to enforce its interests.”
Too dependent for real punishment
The EU is too reliant on Russia to really crack down, La Vanguardia observes:
“Almost two-thirds of the oil imported by the EU comes from Russia, which is also its main supplier of natural gas (40 percent). Being dependent for energy on a country with which it is in constant conflict is risky because it makes the EU vulnerable. If Moscow decides to turn off the tap, Europe would have a serious problem. So as the EU prepares new sanctions, it is conscious of the need to maintain contact with Russia because it needs the country's support in various international conflicts, such as the nuclear deal with Iran, the wars in Syria and Libya, and the climate crisis.”
The Kremlin has no need to take the EU seriously
Russia is currently too successful in its little game with Europe to feel any fear of it, Hospodářské noviny warns:
“The debates about the Sputnik V vaccine show what Moscow's main goal is: to intensify the uncertainty in which are Europeans living in the pandemic and to drive wedges between member states. ... The addition of four people to the sanctions list, which at any rate will need to be confirmed at the March summit of heads of state and government, will be a source of jubilation rather than serious concern in the Kremlin. While the ministers were sitting in their meeting, Putin was skiing with Belarus's leader Lukashenka in Sochi.”