Airspace closure, freezing of assets of individuals or companies, review of financial or trade relations: since the start of hostilities in Ukraine, Western countries have increased economic sanctions against Vladimir Putin, his environment and the Russian economy.
The financial sector
Western countries are turning their attention to the financial sector in the search for effective sanctions against Russia to limit funding for the Russian war in Ukraine.
The United States, the European Union and other countries have chosen to strike directly at Russia’s central bank, banning any transactions with the Russian monetary institution since Monday and freezing its assets. Consequence: the ruble is falling freely against the dollar. In Russia, queues are rising in front of banks for people trying to withdraw dollars, as depositors hope to reduce their losses.
Another major blow to the Russian financial system is the exclusion of the country’s largest banks from the international Swift interbank system, a key tool of the global financial system.
London has also hit the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which has been included in the list of organizations affected by sanctions, while the European Union may do the same soon.
Under sanctions, Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, announced today that it was withdrawing from the European market.
At the same time, the US administrators of Visa, Mastercard and American Express announced their measures to prevent Russian banks from using their networks.
After the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada, the United States will ban the entry of Russian aircraft, further restricting the activities of the Russian airline Aeroflot, which had already been forced to cancel a large number of flights. Russia has banned airlines from flying over its territory, forcing European airlines to reschedule flights to Asia.
More broadly, the entire Russian aerospace industry is in the crosshairs of Western sanctions: the European Union and Canada have banned the export of aircraft, aerospace and equipment to Russia.
Maritime transport has also been hit: the United Kingdom has closed all its ports on Russian-flagged ships, but also on Russian-chartered or Russian-owned ships.
Maersk, CMA CGM, Hapag Lloyd and MSC have announced that they are suspending shipments to and from Russian ports.
Finally, the Volvo Group announced the cessation of production at its Russian plant, as well as sales to Russia. Daimler Truck has recently ceased operations in Russia, along with Harley-Davidson Inc, Ford Motor Co., BMW. Exports to Russia were also cut by Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Aston Martin and General Motors.
Russian giant Gazprom is among the companies that no longer have the ability to raise capital in the Western financial markets.
Another symbolic decision was the suspension of the process for the opening of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which would allow the increase of Russian gas exports to Germany. The pipeline management company, Nord Stream 2 AG, went bankrupt.
But a direct attack on Russia’s energy sector is complicated for Westerners and especially for Europeans who remain dependent on Russian gas.
On Friday, Japan announced the imposition of sanctions on the export of semiconductors and other components to “Russian military-affiliated organizations”, without giving further details. Important measure given that Japan, along with South Korea and Taiwan, are among the major microchip producers that are essential in many areas of industrial production.
The United States has announced that Russia will impose restrictions on the use of US technology in various fields, such as processors and microchips manufactured by Nvidia, Intel and Qualcomm, which are also major manufacturers.
The European Union (EU) has decided to ban Russian state-run media RT and Sputnik, regardless of their broadcasting, radio or internet. The ban officially took effect today.
Facebook, a subsidiary of Meta, and YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, have decided to block the broadcasts of these Russian media outlets in Europe. More broadly, Google has announced that it has ruled out the possibility of making money through its platforms through Russian-funded media.
Many Russian individuals have been targeted by European and American sanctions since the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Now their list has been expanded to include top members of the Russian leadership, such as Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. of Michael Misustin.
The European Union (EU) announced on Thursday that 23 front-line figures and 351 members of the Duma had been sanctioned, adding Putin and Lavrov on Friday. A similar decision was made by the United Kingdom regarding Putin and Lavrov, as well as a number of Russian oligarchs, including the owner of Chelsea Football Club Roman Abramovich.
Sanctions against individuals include banning them from moving to European Union countries and freezing their assets in Europe.
The United States, Canada, Switzerland and Australia have imposed similar measures, but the list of persons may vary from country to country. However, the circle of people around Vladimir Putin is constantly present in the black lists.
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