How much further will the West go with sanctions?

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has said that on Thursday further sanctions to be imposed by the United States and other countries against Russia to hasten the end of the invasion of Ukraine will be announced. Europe's press discusses how willing individual states are to cooperate.

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The Times (GB) /

Don't hesitate any longer

In addition to providing Ukraine with military support the immediate tightening of sanctions against Russia is necessary, says The Times:

“The West also needs to keep up the supply of weapons to Ukraine, of which they are running short, as well as providing training. Even if it is not feasible for Nato to establish a no-fly zone, it can go a long way to delivering the same result with sophisticated anti-aircraft systems. Nor should Nato wait until Mr Putin has used chemical and biological weapons to escalate sanctions or military aid. The evidence of the past month shows he is heedless of western attempts to deter him. Better to signal that the West will only de-escalate when the very last Russian soldier has left Ukrainian territory.”

Peščanik (RS) /

Sanctions instead of war

Rejecting sanctions means choosing a side in the conflict, Pešč puts in:

“Sanctions are an attempt to end the war before it spreads to other countries. Rejecting sanctions and proudly saying that Serbia would never introduce them against anyone means, in this specific case, advocating war. It's like saying: we don't want sanctions, we want war. ... Sanctions are symbolic gestures, and imposing them entails choosing a side. Serbia refuses to choose. That would make sense if Ukraine and Russia were equal military powers, fighting a war after a series of conflicts for which both were equally to blame. It would make sense if this were really a war between Nato and Russia. But it isn't.”

Pravda (SK) /

Other measures needed to stop Putin

Further sanctions against Putin could hurt Central-Eastern Europe and Ukraine in particular, Pravda warns:

“Although we have several months' worth of supplies of strategic raw materials such as oil and gas, we still don't know how to replace shortfalls. ... Ukraine, which decoupled from Russia after 2015, is still indirectly dependent on raw material transports, from which it earns a lot of money. Who will compensate it for the losses? ... Norwegian capacities are being utilised to the max. Supplies of liquefied gas from the US and its transport are harmful to the environment. Should we focus even more on the authoritarian regimes of the Middle East and Algeria? ... We must also look for other ways to stop Putin.”

Revista 22 (RO) /

The front is crumbling

Revista 22 detects the first signs of fatigue in the West:

“Every day, Russia receives hundreds of millions of euros just for the gas which it exports to western EU countries. If it is not possible for them to stop importing gas, then these countries could at least reduce the volume of oil they buy. In recent days, however, there have been growing indications from various capitals that some leaders are getting bored of the topic of the Russian invasion and they are becoming increasingly annoyed at Zelensky's stubbornness. Quite a few politicians in the West are hoping they will be able go back to business as usual with Russia.”

Hürriyet (TR) /

Turkey attempts a balancing act

Turkey is adopting its own special approach to the war in Ukraine, Hürriyet observes:

“Turkey has condemned Russia within Nato for its invasion of Ukraine and is also supplying the Ukrainian army with drones. ... But on the other hand it is trying to maintain its relations with Russia by not joining the sanctions imposed by the West. ... While EU countries are closing their airspace to Russian planes, Turkey's airspace and airports remain open to them. ... The Turkish side is avoiding harsh rhetoric towards Russia in order to keep channels to both sides open and be able to play a mediating role. ... However, if a solution to the war cannot be found soon, this policy will inevitably be seriously put to the test.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

Everyone should pull out

The Western companies that stay in Russia only legitimise Putin, says Jyllands-Posten:

“Russia is a developing country that ranks 85th in the world in terms of per capita GDP. Even if you adjust for purchasing power, it's only in 74th place. Families in Europe are already paying for the economic war at the supermarket, and it is inevitable that ordinary Russians will also feel the crunch. Not least because all Western companies are withdrawing from Russia. The companies that remain are not only undermining the economic war but also legitimising the regime, which comes dangerously close to provoking a war against the West. ”

Magyar Hírlap (HU) /

Not all are equally willing to impose sanctions

Not everyone has the same cost-benefit analysis regarding sanctions, observes Magyar Hírlap:

“Those who are not in charge and want to score points on the domestic front, like the Gyurcsány Left [Hungarian left-wing opposition leader Ferenc Gyurcsány and his allies], are mostly calling for a more aggressive approach. Those in government, on the other hand, are generally more cautious. Depending on their geopolitical situation, there are countries that can afford to go 'all out', while others are afraid of shooting themselves in the foot. ... The effectiveness of sanctions raises equally serious questions, because now, as in the past, they have failed to produce a decisive turning point.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

We need energy that guarantees peace

The young Polish climate activist Wiktoria Jędroszkowiak calls for an end to the use of fossil fuels:

“The age of fossil fuels must come to an end - their continued extraction and use is not only causing a climate crisisthat fuels violence, creates conflicts and increases social inequalities, but also supports authoritarian regimes. The money of the people of the EU, who are committed to democracy, must not finance the governments of Saudi Arabia, Iran or Venezuela. ... We need energy that guarantees peace and does not cause suffering - politicians must give top priority to investments in renewables and energy conservation.”

Irish Independent (IE) /

There are no easy solutions

The EU faces a dilemma, says the Irish Independent:

“Both Germany and Italy are very heavily dependent on gas supplies. The EU more generally gets 40pc of its gas supplies from Russia and the impact of an energy import ban on the already spiralling cost of living, and the risk to hundreds of thousands of jobs, is now very real and a big economic recession looms. This is a moral dilemma for the EU as it weighs loss of livelihoods in a host of EU countries against life and death in Ukraine. ... There are utterly no easy solutions to this one. But the talking must continue and signs of EU member state disunity, which benefit Putin, must be dispelled at all costs.”

Yetkin Report (TR) /

US sanctions making everyone nervous

The US financial sanctions against Russia are already unprecedentedly harsh, Yetkin Report points out:

“The US has begun to exert its influence through political intervention in the banking system on a scale never seen before. ... The White House is also preparing measures to control means of payment beyond the dollar, for example with cryptocurrencies. The weapon of confiscating central bank reserves held in dollars or in gold in the US and the European Union is already being used. This has left Russia unable to access half of its reserves, which are estimated at 640 billion dollars. ... These policies are now being applied against Russia, but they are also making all the other countries nervous.”

Neatkarīgā (LV) /

Serious business only possible without Putin

The economic sanctions will hit the Russian financial system hard, and the international condemnation of Putin exacerbates this effect, says Neatkarīgā:

“There is no doubt that it is only a matter of a very short time before the Russian financial system is left completely isolated, despite the resistance of the big companies. At the same time, Russia is not exactly being helped by its leader. Today, Putin's reputation in Europe and North America is as bad as that of Hitler, Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad. No serious businessman or politician wants to become a member of this club.”

Večer (SI) /

Still leeway for negotiations

The sanctions against Russia are not as radical as they initially appeared to be, Večer concludes:

“Perhaps it is better that way, because it suggests a willingness to negotiate. An obvious example is that only a quarter of Russian banks have been excluded from the Swift system. Neither Sberbank nor Gazprom Bank are among them. At the same time, Russia has no intention of cutting off gas supplies to Germany, Poland, the Baltic states and the Balkans. In addition, the price of gas will rise after the closure of Nord Stream. As long as both sides have breathing space, there will be no nuclear war.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Overly harsh sanctions would be counterproductive

The trick is to find the right balance with the sanctions, warns the Financial Times:

“Democracies are seeking both to ensure the Putin regime pays a high price for its increasingly bloody attack, and alter the Russian president's calculus on how far he is prepared to go in his aggression. They must also take into account that imposing a rapid economic collapse would risk provoking a backlash among Russians, who are not responsible for the war, and driving an increasingly paranoid leader into a corner. Sanctions must be calibrated to impose heavy but controlled pressure.”

Efimerida ton Syntakton (GR) /

A recipe for mutual destruction

Efimerida ton Syntakton also urges caution:

“The US and EU imposing sanctions against Russia may be a reasonable reaction from the point of view of international law. ... However, in combination with the retaliatory and countermeasures already taken and still possible, this could prove to be a recipe for mutual economic destruction. The economic war between the West and Russia is acquiring Cold War characteristics. If nuclear doctrine kept the superpower leaders from imprudently pressing the red button back then, the red button has already been pressed in the economic sphere. ... The Western sanctions and the Russian retaliatory measures have the declared aim of inflicting enormous economic damage on each other.”

NV (UA) /

Target Russia's Central Bank

Former Ukrainian Minister of the Economy Pavlo Kukhta proposes in NV:

“Sanctions against the Central Bank of Russia - which holds Russia's foreign exchange reserves and manages Russian sovereign wealth funds - are already being widely discussed in Western expert circles. ... Most of these amounts are virtual electronic records in accounts at Western central banks: the US Federal Reserve, the ECB, etc. ... If these accounts are frozen by sanctions, within a second Russia will basically be left with no more money to maintain the stability of its own economy. With these methods the West can win the war against Russia without firing a single shot.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Reality now catching up with the West

The sanctions imposed so far won't deter the Kremlin leader, Hospodářské noviny writes:

“Generally speaking, everyone goes as far as they are allowed to. And the West, including the Czech Republic, is not showing Russia that it is really willing to stop its expansion. Ukraine has been asking for Nato membership for years. In vain. The West doesn't really want that either; it would be too expensive in every respect. As a result, Ukraine is now likely to fall within Russia's sphere of influence. And the West, like the famous guy who falls off a skyscraper, says: 'So far, so good.' But it's not good. And it's not going to get any better with the current approach.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Putin must not get off lightly this time

Doubts about the effectiveness of sanctions are understandable, writes the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“However it would be a misunderstanding to make a change in behaviour alone the yardstick for the soundness and success of sanctions. An important goal is to make the opponent pay for political decisions. The alternative would be to accept them unchallenged and to abandon the order that has guaranteed security and prosperity for Europe for decades. The real mistake was to let Putin get off far too lightly after the annexation of Crimea.”

Aftonbladet (SE) /

Confiscate châteaux and football clubs

Measures that really hurt Putin's entourage must be taken, Aftonbladet writes:

“Vladimir Putin remembers how little it cost him to invade Ukraine in 2014, and how the Crimea annexation also strengthened him at home. Nothing the West has done so far has altered Russia's calculations. The sanctions announced so far were probably already factored into the equation, the diplomatic reactions likewise. ... Presumably the goal now is to crack down on Putin's inner circle. Freeze the oligarchs' stolen assets in Western banks. Take away their French châteaux and football teams. Cancel their visas and passports.”

ABC (ES) /

The price is high - but justified

The sanctions against Russia will hurt us but they should be imposed nonetheless, ABC stresses:

“There is far more at stake than the future of a few regions in a country on the edge of our sphere of influence. ... Putin has shown that he has no scruples. .. He did it in Georgia, he is doing it for the second time in Ukraine. if we don't stop him, he will do it in other countries - the Baltic region or elsewhere in Europe. Given the seriousness of the situation, we must realise that these sanctions will come with a high price for us as well, and we must be prepared to pay that price or be prepared for the consequences of letting a violent attitude that goes against the most basic rules of international law go unpunished.”