Russia: sanctions having a limited impact

A meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday failed to produce an agreement on imposing an oil embargo against Russia. According to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, however, this option is not off the table. In the meantime, creative ways are being found to sidestep the sanctions already imposed, Europe's press observes.

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Wedomosti (RU) /

Moscow financially better off than before

Vedomosti explains why Western sanctions won't hurt the domestic trade balance:

“The fact is that we now have a slump in imports and a rather small dent in exports, which, however, is being compensated for by the skyrocketing commodity prices. As a result, the surplus in the foreign trade balance could reach record levels again this year and there will be sufficient liquidity. ... The drop in imports of machinery and technology is unprecedented (70 percent), and imports of consumer goods have also dropped by more than a third compared to normal levels. ... The economic cycles have changed, the situation has deteriorated - but the difference between income and expenditure has grown.”

Kommersant (RU) /

When the origins of crude oil change at sea

inspired by Iranian and Venezuelan practices, the oil industry will play fast and loose to undermine sanctions, Kommersant predicts:

“Schemes with fuel mixtures may be amusing for now, but they are likely to become models for more extensive operations to white-wash Russian raw materials. ... Loaded tankers with their positioning signals switched off will sail out of Russian ports under the cover of night to transfer their cargo at sea to neutral ships supposedly carrying Kazakh (or Norwegian or Saudi) oil. Tankers and owners suspected of such practices will be sanctioned, but then replaced by new ships and people. And the cost of the operation is offset by the discount on Russian oil compared to the prices on the global market.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

The oligarchs are quicker

The Dutch government has come under fire for its sluggishness in imposing sanctions on Russian oligarchs. The new sanctions coordinator Stef Blok is always bringing up the rear, Volkskrant columnist Sheila Sitalsing complains:

“Just a few days ago the 50-metre yacht docked in Vlissingen belonged to Roman Abramovich. And then it didn't, as The Guardian revealed last week. After the invasion of Ukraine it was immediately put under a friend's name. ... The Netherlands has had sanctions against Russia in place since 2014. ... But every time another oligarch is added to the sanctions list, he quickly unloads his wares before Stef Blok has even opened his Excel programme.”