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Tit-For-Tat Sanctions: Western Bans And Russian Retaliation

Sanction map and Russian flag courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, modified by Curiousmatic.

As consequence for their controversial involvement with Ukraine, Russia has been hit with a number of sanctions from the West. But in a tit-for-tat move, Russia has sanctioned the West right back.

Here’s a rundown of economic sanctions on each side, and their possible implications.

Sanctions against Russia

The EU, U.S., Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Japan, Australia, and Ukraine have all sanctioned Russia since their annexation of Crimea in March 2014.

In March, sanctions were issued against individual politicians, officials, and prominent business people, barring them from traveling to the U.S., EU, and Canada. Japan also announced sanctions suspending international talks about military, space, investments, and more.

In April, the U.S. imposed a ban on business transactions with an additional seven Russian officials and 17 companies, and the EU banned 15 more individuals from travel.

In July, the United States expanded its sanctions to ban Russian energy firms Rosneft and Novatek and two banks, Sberbank and VTB. The EU sanctioned 23 more individuals and 21 entities, followed by sanctions against sectors of Russia’s economy, including its financial sector and energy and defense trade.

In August, more sanctions were imposed by Norway, Canada, Japan, Switzerland, and Ukraine similar to those adopted by the U.S. and EU.

Russia’s retaliative sanctions

In March, Russia reciprocated the United States’ sanctions by imposing their own on 10 American individuals including Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senator John McCain. Russia also sanctioned 13 Canadian officials in March.

On August 6, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree that mandated a ban on food imports from countries that had imposed sanctions on Russia: specifically, the U.S., EU, Norway, Canada and Australia.

The ban covers all meat, fish, fruit, vegetable, and dairy imports for a year long period.

Russia also barred Ukrainian aircrafts from its airspace, and is considering sanctioning the West over airspace along with further sanctions on industrial imports.

What it all means

Russia’s more recent sanctions may mark a new level of intensity regarding international tensions. This time Russia has shown it’s willing to hurt itself as much, if not more, than the West– it has now cut off 55 percent  of its agricultural imports and 95 percent of its cheese, milk, and yogurt, the Washington Post reports.

The sanctions already have proven damaging to the EU, as countries are forced to find new destinations for a surplus of perishable goods, pushing prices down and hindering the economy (Russia was its second largest food exporter after the US).

While the sanctions won’t hinder America much, the EU may lose up to $16 billion, and Russia may lose even more by isolating itself, causing inflation and shortages (Moscow relies 60 percent on  food imports), and possibly driving its economy into recession.

Whether or not sanctions actually are effective as behavior enforcement, and not just prideful and punitive political jabs, is another story entirely (click through to read more). So far, each player remains as stubborn as ever.

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Jennifer Markert