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Author: Adam Reichardt

The devastating long-term effects of sanctions against Russia

Vladimir Putin and his criminal war in Ukraine have returned the Russian economy back to the dark days of the early 1990s, with spiralling inflation, winding queues in front of banks and shops, stringent financial controls and a new wave of skilled Russian emigrants flowing out of the country. This crisis is only likely to get worse as Russia turns into a pariah state unpalatable for the world’s most technologically-advanced nations and enterprises.

As Vladimir Putin launched his brutal invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, a US-led coalition of like-minded governments launched their own economic barrage of sanctions against the Russian state, its largest companies and some of its most prominent individuals. The sanctions have focused on crippling Russia’s finances and its ability to pay for the war in Ukraine, as well as severing its military-industrial complex from strategic components. They have put a prohibitive lock on key Russian economic sectors like high-tech, energy and tradeables.

April 25, 2022 - Kiril Kossev

Why Russia has very little to offer

Driven by an imperial vision, Russia has always thought of itself as the centre of an empire. After all, it has often ruled over a huge multinational territory and was always militarily stronger than the people who inhabited its sphere of influence. The golden rule for any state holding an imperial vision of inter-state relations is to present itself as the “saviour” of others, and Russia is no exception.

To understand alliances and partnerships, as well as rivalries and conflicts between countries, we often refer to geopolitics and its rules. Attention to the geographical, historical, demographic and economic factors that influence relations between states must not, however, let us forget about the people on the ground. Any alliance or partnership of countries within a sphere of influence should be based on mutual gains for all human beings. Otherwise, it is logical, as well as legitimate, for people to try to circumvent and override the rules of geopolitics. This is exactly what is happening in Russia's European neighbourhood.

April 25, 2022 - Tatevik Hovhannisyan Tiziano Marino

Russia’s targets: children, pregnant women, civil institutions and infrastructure

Not a day goes by without a war crime being deliberately committed by Russia in Ukraine. Documenting these crimes is a huge task that cannot be done by just one organisation. What is needed here is an alliance of various organisations, media groups and volunteers, both abroad and on the ground. They need to document Russian atrocities, sort them, process them for the media and forward them to the authorities for sanctions and prosecution.

No crime is too big for Vladimir Putin to commit, no lie too absurd to utter. This was true even before Russia's troops officially invaded Ukraine on February 24th. The images from Ukraine bring back memories of Grozny in Chechnya and Aleppo in Syria. There, Russian planes also destroyed homes, clinics, schools and other civilian facilities through mass bombardments. The West remained silent when the Russian army was rampaging through Chechnya and Syria. The West apparently did not care about the people there and they did not want a confrontation with Putin. In particular, the war against Syrian civilians was a test for the Russian army.

April 25, 2022 - Jan-Henrik Wiebe

Bearing witness. Despite repressions and state propaganda, the anti-war movement in Russia continues

As the war in Ukraine continues, questions have been asked as to the internal situation in Russia. Whilst the country’s burgeoning anti-war movement may not live up to outside expectations, its attempts to work around the Kremlin’s restrictions are inspiring new and unique forms of protest.

International critics often view the Russian domestic anti-war movement as helpless and doomed to fail. This might seem true as it does not comply with the West and Ukraine’s main expectation that it will start large-scale street protests capable of overthrowing Vladimir Putin’s regime. What often escapes the world’s attention is that there are no such opportunities for the Russian anti-war movement in the country’s political structure. It must first evolve in more sophisticated, symbolic ways to reach a point of numerical strength over time.

April 25, 2022 - Anna Efimova

Learning “history” with Putin

On February 21st, ahead of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin delivered a state-wide history lesson on national television. Since then, the country’s youth has become a key target group for state propaganda. School education has often been considered an effective vehicle for perpetuating and disseminating Russian state propaganda among these young impressionable minds.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 24th with Putin’s announcement of a “special military operation”. His announcement followed a speech he made on February 21st, in which he outlined his justifications for the recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions’ independence. He took his audience on a bizarre “history lesson”, first outlining the country’s founding, when Russia was more commonly associated with Kyivan Rus’ (yet Putin often omits the “Kyivan” aspect).

April 25, 2022 - Allyson Edwards

Bulba in a pickle: Belarus and the war in Ukraine

Stuck in the middle of a war, Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka has tried to save himself by using his old tricks. He officially supports the Russian invasion and claims that Moscow was provoked by NATO. At the same time, he is trying to demonstrate that he still has some sovereignty at his disposal.

Bulba, potato in Belarusian, is an important vegetable in Belarus. The country is well known for its production and various dishes (including draniki, potato pancakes) that go well with Bulbash vodka. Belarusians are known as bulbashy in the Russian-speaking world. Although, for a long time, it was a name that was considered offensive, in recent years it has been adopted by the younger generation who wear it with ironic pride. Today, one of the most famous bulbash, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, is facing probably the most challenging situation in his long political career. The

April 25, 2022 - Kacper Wańczyk

Poland as a new frontline state

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine not only wreaked havoc on Ukrainian society but also damaged the regional security architecture of Central and Eastern Europe. For Poland and other states on the Eastern Flank of NATO, it instantly meant that they had all become de facto frontline states.

February 24th marked the end of the world order as we know it when Russian tanks rolled into Ukrainian territory and Russian missiles started to target Ukrainian civilian and military infrastructure. It is by no means an exaggeration to claim that the international security architecture that was shaped after the Second World War is now gone. From the regional perspective, the first day of the Russian aggression changed everything for both Ukraine and its neighbours. Many of these states have been pondering whether they would be next on Putin's list.

April 25, 2022 - Wojciech Michnik

The more things change… Britain, Russia and the war in Ukraine

The Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine has upended its bilateral links with countries around the world. This is no clearer than in the United Kingdom, which has forged a rather contradictory relationship with Russia over the past few decades. British politicians are now faced with pursuing a clean break with this peculiar status quo in response to today’s exceptional circumstances.

It has not been an easy winter for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Whether it is overlooking a friend’s paid lobbying or lockdown parties at Downing Street, the British leader has often found himself in the media spotlight for all the wrong reasons. This uncertain domestic situation has had a drastic effect on the fortunes of his own Conservative Party, with recent by-election results often turning in favour of opposition parties. Polls now show steady support for the Labour Party for the first time since Johnson’s landslide election victory in late 2019. Nevertheless, the famously resilient Boris continues to hold on to his job.

April 25, 2022 - Niall Gray

Relations with Russia will never be the same again

No one knows when or how Russia’s second invasion of Ukraine will end. But when the conflict ends, a rebuilding phase will be required. During this period, US and western leaders would be wise to tread lightly as they try to establish a new relationship with Russia.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, a new era was born. Fifteen countries emerged from the disbanded union and the West assumed that they would naturally gravitate towards democracy and capitalist economies. As a result, the West welcomed these new countries to join its institutions. One of these countries was Russia.

April 25, 2022 - Mark Temnycky

Mission impossible? EU membership for Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova during wartime

Whilst Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova’s applications for EU membership were submitted before they were really ready, the Russian military assault on Ukraine has put the EU in a very delicate situation. Nevertheless, the EU has given the green light to start evaluating the eligibility of the three associated states for candidate status.

Never before have Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova's European prospects been as bright as they are now. All three partner countries in the Eastern Partnership region have already submitted applications to join the European Union. However, the trigger for this move was not the success of internal reforms or the fulfilment of other political and economic milestones (also known as the Copenhagen Criteria).

April 25, 2022 - Denis Cenusa

Hardship on the horizon: Armenia amid sanctions against Russia

Armenian economists, entrepreneurs and private business owners are warning about hardships that have arisen due to sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. The risks and consequences for Armenia’s economy are severe.

Russia’s war against Ukraine has gone beyond the borders of the conflict between the two states and has knocked on the doors of all countries, targeting their economies first. The invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops led to a global economic backlash against Russia in the form of additional economic sanctions. These complement the package of sanctions initiated in 2014 following the annexation of Crimea and the war in Eastern Ukraine. These restrictions are still valid and have already had significant negative impacts on the Russian economy.

April 25, 2022 - Anna Vardanyan

Russia’s war in Ukraine: perspectives from the South Caucasus

The war in Ukraine has also opened long-standing geopolitical wounds in the three states of the South Caucasus, which now find themselves on the frontline of the new Cold War. The modest reactions of Baku, Tbilisi and Yerevan to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine underline the precarious states the three countries find themselves in.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has geopolitical implications for Europe and beyond. This includes the three South Caucasus countries, all of which are members of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership initiative. Yet, governmental and societal reactions have varied in all three countries, with the Georgian government being cornered into a strategy of “non-deterrence”, the Armenian government subordinate to Russia’s security interests, and the Azerbaijani government pursuing its balancing policy while also seeking a strategic partnership with Moscow.

April 25, 2022 - Bidzina Lebanidze Irena Gonashvili Veronika Pfeilschifter

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