Weak spots appear as the net of global sanctions hardens

Following the announcement of the second phase of Western economic sanctions on Russia in the last days of February, a new coordination mechanism is being created for the promotion of long-term sanctions, which is often led by the United States. The campaign will be conducted without a formal UN mandate as Russia, and others will probably confirm that the UN Security Council itself has become useless as Moscow continues its campaign towards Kiev.

Establish a global task force

The second wave of sanctions, the joint US-EU-UK-Canada statement – more restrictive economic measures – issued on 26 February, highlighted a taste of the things ahead.

The statement said: “Fourth, we are committed to launching a transatlantic task force this coming week that will identify and freeze the assets of authorized individuals and companies within our jurisdiction and ensure effective implementation of our financial sanctions. As part of this effort, we are committed to imposing sanctions and other financial and enforcement measures on additional Russian officials and elites close to the Russian government, as well as to identify their families and their abilities and to freeze the resources we have. Jurisdiction We will also appoint other governments and work to identify and disrupt the movement of illicit profits and to deny these individuals the right to hide their assets in jurisdiction around the world. The full text of the joint statement can be found here:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/02/26/joint-statement-on-fair-restrictive-economic-measures/

This means that we can expect to see a growing frenzy of announcements about new sanctions measures and new task force meetings, which we expect American officials to quickly dominate. It is also unlikely that Washington will induce a high-level sanctions envoy, in addition to the existing State Department sanctions policy coordinator, to further tighten global efforts.

The EU is considering another sanctions package this week, which could be approved as early as March 4. It is said to focus on the port, Oligarch’s family and trust funds, but excludes energy.

The main prohibition group

The main members of the Western sanctions alliance are the EU, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. This grouping covers almost all G-7 countries. While much of the world is still somewhat uncertain, new supporters, many of them key strategic global economic players, are signing up to sanctions groups, including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Switzerland. However, not all of these countries are able to implement the full core group sanctions immediately.

Fence-sitter

India has not yet signed up to the global effort, primarily because of Russia’s military equipment and the need for support against China. Although US influence has grown exponentially in recent years, the implementation of sanctions by India will inevitably become a cautious balancing act. Washington has retained many policy tools to express its dissatisfaction if New Delhi remains adamant, especially if Russia’s economy begins to show signs of sanctions fatigue.

The United Arab Emirates is also one of the critical countries to take a hard line at the moment. Although it is not currently enforcing sanctions, it is funding Ukrainian refugees. The UAE-based airlines provide a significant outlet to Russia, operating at least a significant number of flights to Moscow at the moment. The UAE is allowing Ukrainians to enter without visa restrictions.

Throwing an economic lifeline to Moscow for now

Interestingly, China was considering a limited financial embargo against Russia in the early days of the conflict, but has now confirmed that it will not do so. It has long been thought that if Russia were given as much approval as it does now, China would still have lost access to a number of important defense technology projects in Ukraine. There is no doubt that Washington will pay close attention to stopping any possible technology transfer to Russia through China now under sanctions.

Anyone who opens a commercial flight tracking application will notice a sharp decline in flights connecting Russia to the West as they apply sanctions. A few air links seem to be different, especially the air links between Turkey and Serbia as mentioned earlier, in addition to the UAE.

Turkey has announced that it will not impose Western economic sanctions, making it one of NATO’s most problematic issues. As part of its equilibrium law, it has denied a number of Russian ships intending to transit the Aegean Sea – in accordance with the 1936 Montreux Convention – to travel through the Bosphorus.

Turkey is already subject to limited US sanctions for purchasing Russian missile systems; Therefore, it is unrealistic to expect Ankara to cooperate with Ukraine on the sanctions package without receiving anything in return. If European Union airspace, especially Greece and Cyprus, is closed to Russian flights, Turkey could position itself to pick up large numbers of Russian tourists during the summer months.

A Russian naval ship is passing through the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul.

Serbia has also refused to sign up to the Russian sanctions package, and not just because Moscow flights are creating new business opportunities for Air Serbia. Russia is a staunch supporter of Serbia in the Kosovo conflict and Serbia’s main power supplier. Accordingly, Serbia remains a standout in the region as other Western Balkan aspirants to join the European Union have indicated their intention to align themselves with the EU sanctions decision in order to demonstrate strong joining candidacy.

All Southeast European countries, including Serbia, voted in favor of the UN General Assembly resolution on March 2, condemning Russia’s aggression.

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