Russian President Vladimir Putin has started a fight against sanctions leveled against Russia with sanctions of his own. The sanctions were placed on Russia by a number of Western countries, including the United States (U.S.) and Canada along with countries in the European Union (EU). The March 2014 Russian annexing of Crimea and the ongoing Ukraine crisis along with the renewal of fighting in eastern Ukraine that has stopped the already delayed search for the remains of the passengers from flight MH17.
The sanctions set by Putin put a ban on any product produced in the U.S. and Canada from being imported to Russia, and a potential ban on all fruits and vegetables from EU member nations. The full list of Russian sanctioned items is expected to be released Thursday, August 7. This was Putin’s response to the second round of sanctions leveled on Russia by the West last week. Russia has already shown signs of suffering from the sanctions that have affected the country for nearly six months.
While President Putin’s sanctions will financially affect Western nations, they may be Russia’s way of telling the EU and U.S. that a Putin led Russia will not back down from Ukraine without a fight, even if the Russian imposed sanctions hurt the Russian people more than it will hurt the West. Putin appears to be standing firm and unwilling to pull away from Ukraine. Canadian Broadcast Company (CBC) News learned from a spokeswoman for the Russian Embassy that Putin’s sanctions against the West would last for 1 year.
Putin’s sanctions came shortly after Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper released a statement announcing Canada’s sanctions against Russia. In the statement, Harper said that Putin’s regime’s ongoing occupation of Crimea is illegal and the actions of the Russian military in eastern Ukraine is of grave concern to the international community, including Canada. The Canadian sanctions announced today add travel sanctions against Russian banks and high-ranking officials as well as economic sanctions. Canada’s sanctions add 22 Ukrainian and Russian economic entities and 19 Ukrainians and Russians to a list banned from traveling to Canada.
The sanctions imposed by the Canada, the U.S. and allies are currently hurting Russia, but are not the answer to the problem, according to Carleton University’s Piotr Dutkiewicz. Dutkiewicz, the director of the Institute of European and Russian Studies, believes that eventually Russia will seek out the sanctioned products from China or Brazil, and likely would start producing their own products. While the Russian people may be suffering now, Dutkiewicz feels that the sanctions will fail in the long run, hindering any negotiations. According to Dutkiewicz, the West should be focusing on bringing Ukraine and Russia together to stop the conflict.
The Western sanctions against Russia and the response from President Putin to fight Western sanctions with his own against the West are not the first sanctions Russia has recently laid out, and may not be the last. As tensions continue to rise, there is speculation that Russia may consider closing its airspace to European carriers flying to Asia, as the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was doing when it was shot down. While the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, would not comment on any rumors about closing of Russian airspace, he did say “our Western partners should think about their companies and their citizens,” according to a report from the Interfax news agency. Russia had already set sanctions on fruits imported from Poland last week, stating that the ban was because of sanitary concerns. The move raised speculation that the Polish fruit ban was in direct response of Poland’s support of the Ukrainian authorities.
By Carl Auer