There’s an old saying that goes, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
The European Union seems to be a good case in point.
The bloc announced last week that it plans on hitting Russia with its 11thround of sanctions over the Ukraine War—this time with a focus on a longer list of goods that cannot transit through Russia and new restrictions on the sale of items with dual-use potential to countries that could turn around and sell to Moscow.
The West still wants to choke Russia’s war effort by starving the country of components it needs to produce new weapons. But Moscow has benefited from open trade with China, Iran, and India.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, told reporters that the new round of sanctions will “deal a further blow to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s war machine with tightened export regulations, targeting entities supporting the Kremlin.”
The Moscow Times reported that there have been over 13,000 international sanctions imposed on Russia, its companies, and its citizens. The paper noted that the number is more than what has been imposed on Iran, Cuba, and North Korea combined.
Despite the unprecedented effort, Russia’s GDP only fell by 2.1 percent in 2022, according to the International Monetary Fund. The paper said Moscow is expecting a 2 percent growth in 2023. To put that number into perspective, the IMF anticipates a 0.7 percent GDP increase for France and a 0.1 decline for Germany.
In March 2023, Russia’s inflation came in at 3.5 percent. The report said Germany’s inflation hit 7.2 percent, the U.K. 10.1 percent, the U.S. 4.9 percent, and France 5.7 percent.
TRENDPOST: Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this month that Russia managed to withstand strict Western sanctions by turning away from the West, focusing on Asia and Africa while embracing one of our Top Trends: Self-Sufficiency. (See “TOP TREND ‘SELF-SUFFICIENCY”\’: PUTIN SAYS WESTERN SANCTIONS FAILED. TAKES SHOT AT ZELENSKY” 20 Jun 2023, “MORE SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA, MORE GERMAN GAS SHORTAGES” 25 Apr 2023, and “PUTIN CEMENTS OUR TOP TREND OF SELF-SUFFICIENCY: WESTERN SANCTIONS FAILED” 17Jan 2023.)
Putin’s comments came after more than 1,000 Western companies left the country and applied crushing sanctions on Russia’s energy exports. Russia managed to find new buyers. The Moscow Times, citing the independent media outlet Agentstvo, reported that oil and gas exports from Russia in 2022 hit $383.7 billion, 43 percent more than the year before. The amount was more than the country spent the whole year.
Putin told a business conference in St. Petersburg last year that the West’s effort to smash the Russian economy failed, and backfired. He said European countries suffered from these sanctions.
“The economic blitzkrieg never had any chances of success,” he said. “The weaponry of sanctions is a double-edged sword . . . European countries dealt a serious blow to their own economy all on their own.”
The new round of sanctions also impacts an additional 87 new entities “directly supporting Russia’s military and industrial complex in its war of aggression against Ukraine.”
These companies will face tighter export restrictions for dual-use and advanced technology items. In addition to the Russian and Iranian entities already listed, this now also covers entities registered in China, Uzbekistan, the United Arab Emirates, Syria, and Armenia.
“Our anti-circumvention tool will prevent Russia from getting its hands on sanctioned goods,” von der Leyen said.