June 16, 2015

Why The West Must Tighten Sanctions Against Russia

Marissa SemkiwArchive

Russia’s economy isn’t looking so hot.

Western sanctions – imposed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – are making it harder for Russian companies to trade on international markets. In addition, the sustained drop in global oil prices has drained the Russian government of the money it needs to pay its bills. For a country as dependent on energy exports as Russia, falling oil prices are a big problem.

But not that big a problem.

Because President Putin can always rely on the Europeans to come to his rescue. After all, the word ‘sanctions’ has a very different definition in Europe than in Canada. Where we regard trading in breach of ‘sanctions’ as a crime that should meet penalties, many European businesses see sanctions as an obstacle to be navigated rather than as a barrier. If these businesses overcome the obstacles and make a buck without getting caught, they’ll do so.

To see this greed in action, just read this article from Sunday’s Financial Times. It reports on a French businessman whose Russian business contacts had been sanctioned. But it notes that the businessman then received an offer from a different Russian firm. One that somehow knew all the details of his previous deals with the sanctioned contact. The implication is clear to understand: the new business offer was actually from the sanctioned individuals who are now simply acting under a different name. In Canada, we wouldn’t permit this game. But in the EU, the rules are different. As such, instead of abandoning the deal, the French businessman played the game. As he puts it, "We ran a quick check, and none of the shareholders given in the company registry is on any black list. That’s all we can do, although we can probably guess what’s going on here."

But this isn’t just about greed. It reflects a much deeper problem. Once again, Putin is playing us for fools. Aware European governments have never had much interest in enforcing sanctions (French and German companies traded with Saddam Hussein for many years in breach of tough sanctions), Putin is skillfully sidestepping those sanctions.

And the problem goes even deeper.

Because the Russian leader’s confidence is also increasingly evident on the battlefield. While Mr. Putin months ago promised to remove his military forces from eastern Ukraine, he’s actually done the opposite. The Russian supported rebel offensive rumbles on. At the moment, for example, the rebels appear to be attacking industries in Ukraine’s south-eastern city of Mariupol. Home to a crucial sea port, Mariupol is crucial to Ukraine’s better economic future. That makes it a prime target for Putin’s aggression.

All of this means that the West has much work to do. We urgently need to tighten sanctions on Russia (especially Russian financial investments in Europe) and restrict those loopholes in which too many companies are operating.

And it’s not only for the sake of Ukraine that we need to act. It’s also crucial for the security of NATO’s Baltic member states: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. With alarming regularity, Russian military aircraft are now flying threatening missions near the air space of these allied nations. Russian aircraft have sometimes even entered their sovereign air space. These actions have forced President Obama to consider deploying heavy military equipment to the Baltics.

Regardless, we must get serious about hurting Putin where it counts – in his pocket. Pursuing that objective in the coming weeks, the West must ensure our sanctions are as robust – and as impenetrable to cheating – as feasibly possible.


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commented 2015-09-20 03:00:09 -0400
I thought this website was about fiscal conservatism and individual liberty not neo-con corporate fascist shit. Russian geo-politics is of no concern to anybody… idiots in Canada don’t have a clue about Russia. Stop pushing this bullshit if you want to evolve out if the stink if being “faux news north”
commented 2015-08-03 09:22:58 -0400
Nope! Ain’t Russia, the corrupted green agenda driven and enforced through UN Agenda 21 biggest threat to mankind! Period. The rest is smoke and mirrors!
commented 2015-07-03 01:53:54 -0400
And the people of the Baltic States remember that Russia invaded THEM twice and then held them captive for 47 years!…
commented 2015-07-01 10:53:53 -0400
The Russians still remember that the West invaded them twice
commented 2015-06-24 16:58:26 -0400
Muhammed, the trouble is the US is grasping at their petro-dollar hegemony so hard, they cannot see the reason to compromise, and lose a bit, versus go all in and risk losing everything, including economic stability and domestic security. This has to change or North America risks being out of the game for a few decades while we reset to the new BRICS banking hegemony. We cannot stop that ascention. We do not have the population to compete.
commented 2015-06-23 03:38:27 -0400
OK Muhammad, we will “learn to live with what Putin/Russia is after” IF Putin/Russia will do the same, and accept the fact that the ancient cultures of the three Baltic States do not want to be part of Mother Russia!… The people of the Baltic States are not Slavs, don’t like Russian culture or mores, and in the case of Lithuanian/Latvian speak the most ancient root language of the whole Indo-European family of languages… If Putin respects that fact, and historic borders, we can let him stew in his own juices and territory… Fair enough?…
commented 2015-06-22 11:50:42 -0400
I am great admirer of Stephan Harper and I can see the solid reasons behind His Russian/Putin policy. But would like to suggest that there is a greater need to ‘engage’ rather than push Putin. The emerging global scenario demands farsightedness and pragmatism rather than idealism. We must learn to live with what Putin/Russia is after all they are neighbors and could be a great ‘ally ’ in the longer run…..
commented 2015-06-18 16:05:10 -0400
Rick, 1- Aggression- Russia has a lot to learn about aggression from US Empire. 2- Statistic – Referendum 83.1% voter turnout, 96.77% for integration into Russia ( You say it’s corrupt, let western reporters go in and do some reporting). 3- Hatred- I never said you have hatred toward Russian people, i was talking hatred toward Russia (political leaders, Putin ). You are right we agree to disagree. IT WAS GOOD ARGUING WITH YOU, HAVE GOOD WEEKEND !!!
commented 2015-06-18 14:01:15 -0400
Ramaz. Do indeed get real. Any provocation by one state against another sovereign state is aggression, whether it is rigging a “vote”, supplying “rebels”, or direct invasion, all of which have happened. To pretend otherwise is spurious. You always fall back on the blame game of pointing fingers at the U.S. and Europe, but provide no statistical evidence to back it up. By affiliation, you are also pointing fingers at Canada which has been assisting on the Ukraine file. As a Canadian, I find that objectionable! History tends to lend some clarity on events, and Ramaz, I think you will find yourself on the wrong side of history regarding this situation. Truth is always the first casualty in any conflict, and often little is really known until years afterward as more information is retrieved. Don’t EVER accuse me of hatred! I know many Russian emigres’ and they would also find your accusation offensive!
Clearly this is going nowhere. The best that can be achieved is to agree to disagree! I’m done.
commented 2015-06-18 08:01:25 -0400
Me and you have different understanding of free press, when Latvian government ordered to close Russian tv channels, is that free press ? Free press when you see all sides, special y sides you don’t agree with. And statement " the atrocities against the Jews were committed under German occupation control." – like, somebody make me do it, didn’t work then and doesn’t work now. People show so much hate for Russia (thanks to western media) and then they wondering, Why Russia doesn’t like us?
commented 2015-06-18 04:20:44 -0400
That’s a bizarre statement on your part Ramaz… The Baltic States have had a free press since August of 1991!… Once again you are demonstrating that either you don’t know what you are talking about or you are being disingenuous for some reason.. And don’t try to spin the NAZI label into the debate… Just as in Poland, the atrocities against the Jews were committed under German occupation control… And no, “Russia is not innocent” under Rasputin, rather he is trying to re-establish the “glories” of the Soviet Union… Ukrainians wanting to throw off the yoke of Russia does not begin to equate with some imagined deliberate intervention by the USA and Europe… Anybody who has been under the yoke of the Russians, for hundreds of years of history, JUST DON’T WANT IT! Furthermore Ramaz, I would not comment on Georgian politics, just because they make damn fine shashlik and “plumy” red wine, because that was all that I really knew about the facts and “reality on the ground”…
commented 2015-06-18 01:43:49 -0400
Andy, When the baltic states will have the free press maybe i will. When they will write how many jews Latvian nationals killed maybe i will. You just don’t want to understand today’s Russia it’s not Soviet Union, like today’s Germany it’s not Nazi Germany. I lived under communism so i also know something about at, but i like to be fair, i’m not saying Russia is innocent, i just think USA and Europe are more to blame for situation in Ukraine, then Russia.
commented 2015-06-18 00:56:10 -0400
Ok Rick, lets get real, I understand your hatred towards Russia is so strong that it’s hard for you to be objective. About Crimea, you just have to look recent history, Kosovo. If by UN standards parliament can vote for new country, Kosovo, and UN accepted the results, then what happened in Crimea is more legitimate. In Crimea people had referendum ( that’s how democracy works or maybe i’m wrong ) and more then 80% or 90%( i don’t remember exactly) chose to be with Russia, with over 90% of population came to vote. So by UN standards it’s more legitimate then Kosovo vote. After UN created standards you can’t pick and choose which you like and which you don’t. And if the West don’t believe the numbers they can send western reporters to do some polls, they will not go, because they don’t want you to know the answers ( they will go to middle east in war zone, but will not report from Crimea where nobody shooting anybody, isn’t that suspicious ). i’m sorry that your family had difficult experience, but by that logic if i’m jew i have to hate all Germans today because they were Nazis before ( same people) , i don’t live with that logic, i live – don’t forget history, but live in present – . Putin ex KGB, so most of the Eastern Europes lieder’ s after 1991 were former communist party members, that was usually the only way to get to top. And why it’s wrong for Putin (Russian president) that’s want for Russia to be strong and successful and for that America hates him, if hi was weak (like Yeltsin) then they wood love him. So hi doesn’t dance under American tunes ( like most of the Europe ) and good for him. I can write more about Russia-Ukraine conflict, but it’s will be to long so better not.
commented 2015-06-17 20:12:30 -0400
Another hot button topic.

There is a large contingent that thinks like Ramaz does and I agree with him that it serves no purpose to fall back on the hate slurs too many on this site are so fond of flinging at anyone with a different perspective.

I have read many accounts that claim Putin, a devout Christian, is fighting Islamic jihadi persecution of ethnic Russian orthodox Christians in parts of Ukraine.

Canada supports Porochenko but not without open eyes to the problems with corruption the Ukrainian government struggles with. It is unstable and needs support for its democracy.

We should all be concerned about Russia’s threat to our NATO allies because if war with Russia breaks out with any of them, we are duty bound to get involved.

And of even greater concern is Russia’s alliance with Syrian leader Assad and his Iranian allies.

Difficult times as the whole mess in Ukraine is very volatile. We must take firm measures with Russia but the last thing we want is war with Iran. Let’s let Israel, China and SA take care of that.
commented 2015-06-17 18:41:31 -0400
Ramaz… Plesase!!!…The point is that if you could read the news in Estonian, Latvian or Lithuanian, you would have a stronger dose of reality to base your comments on… You evidently don’t…. And if you really knew the history of the Baltic States vis-a-vis Russia, you would not make such desperate grabs at trying to convince those of us who do come from there, or indeed, lived under communism… “Rasputin” lamenting the demise of the Soviet Union should convince any rational person where his mind is at, and what his aspirations are…
commented 2015-06-17 18:01:16 -0400
Rick, i have to go to work, i will answer you later.
commented 2015-06-17 17:56:23 -0400
Ramaz. “When the last time Russia(not Soviet Union) started any war, please.” OK. What do you call the annexation of Crimea, and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine then? “so i also know little bit about russian mentality.” Bully for you! I know more than I really ever wanted to based on the experiences my family had in Occupied Eastern Europe. The escape alone was extremely difficult and if not successful, could have resulted in executions. The Soviets and Russia not the same? We are talking about the same population here, are we not? Putin himself is ex KGB, the secret state police of the former Soviet Union. He has made no secret of his desire to restore Russia to the “Glory Days” of the Soviet Union. If one can believe the polls, he has high domestic support amongst the Russian population. In other words, they think alike. They are the same!
commented 2015-06-17 17:30:32 -0400
Rick,Again you try to mix things we talking about Russia, Putin and you bring Soviet Union, Stalin in the argument,if you can’t accept that Russia and Soviet Union politically much different than it’s will be hard argue, you always will use Soviet era to prove your point. And i ask you again if Russia is an aggressor, When the last time Russia(not Soviet Union) started any war, please. By the way i’m born in Georgia(Gori) and my wife is from Ukraine(Donetsk), so i also know little bit about russian mentality.
commented 2015-06-17 16:48:55 -0400
Ramaz. “Hi wasn’t threatening Nuclear war” Then either you have not been following the news, or you are applying your own selective interpretation to it. “justice is on Russias side.” What “Justice” would that be? For what? Fact is, Russia is an aggressor. Using the same rationale as the Nazis to invade a sovereign state. Stalin exterminated thousands of Ukrainians post WWII in a display of power. Ukraine gave up the Nuclear Arms on their soil post Soviet Union on a promise from Russia they would be left alone. That worked out well, didn’t it? Support Tyrants if you must. However do not make flippant statements about their innocence or justify their actions as “Justice”. Do your research. I have a unique understanding of Russian aggression as my family elders escaped the post WWII Soviet Occupation of Eastern Europe. When the Russians are hell bent on something, they are anything but “Just”. Don’t pretend otherwise.
commented 2015-06-17 16:39:49 -0400
Andy, 1- i’m lefty, 2-i’m simple-stupid, 3-shamed my English skills (English is my 4-th lengwich , so my apologies i’m not as fluent as you are, but that doesn’t mean you smarter), 4-Someone pays me( i wish). Those are tipical lefty tactics when you have nothing to say for your argument go to personal attacks, so who is lefty? Next if you want to argue try stick to the point and not get personal. P.S. So only way for me know the truth i have to read Estonian news- now You funny( no , propaganda in their news only truth).
commented 2015-06-17 15:40:41 -0400
Rick,I think you mixing few things here. 1- Hi wasn’t threatening Nuclear war, hi was reacting to Nato’s moves. 2- Is it very sad that you are comparing Putin With Hitler, Russians with Nazis, tell me when the last time Russia started war with anybody ( just before you say Georgia, there is E U independent inquiry which proves that Georgia started). 3-About invitation, so by that logic if Canada and Mexico will invite Russia to put the army on US borders and America has no say, they just have to take it, do you really think US will do nothing, US don’t have to accept every invitation but here they did just to push Russia, Eastern Europe wasn’t under any threat 15- 20 years go (Berlin wall came down, Soviet Union dismantled), but Nato didn’t stop they continued to move closer and closer to Russia, and now we have situation Russians and Ukrainians in Ukraine killing each other, and Americans are watching with enjoyment, one more place sell arms, they have lots of leftovers from Afganistan and Iraq. 4- It’s not about Obama or Busch it’s about American policies after 1991(they give promises to Russia not move to Eastern Europe, but as we know now they never meant to keep them). Don’t think that i’m Russias cheerleader i just think in this situation how you want to called truth, justice is on Russias side.
commented 2015-06-17 14:27:24 -0400
Well Ramaz, you may not “steel” see how Russia is threatening the Baltic States but then you don’t read Estonian, Latvian or Lithuanian do you??? So you really don’t know what’s going on over there do you?… Your troubles with the English language and your pro-Russian ramblings make we wonder who’s paying you to write your misleading commentary…
commented 2015-06-17 13:56:37 -0400
Ramaz. “Russias point of view, so you will have more balanced view.” Threatening Nuclear War to justify territorial acquisition is hardly balanced! It is foolhardy and dangerous! Has nothing been learned from two world wars? Using your logic, no interference should have occurred when Hitler’s Nazis began annexing countries next to Germany starting with Austria! Hitler was only protecting the ethnic Germans, was he not? NATO is in Eastern Europe because they were invited. Should that invitation be withdrawn, they will leave and those nations will have to fend for themselves. Ukraine is in trouble because although they talked about joining NATO, they never did. Hence Putin can lay his claims. Furthermore, the U.S. under Obama, one gets the impression does not really want to get involved in anything. Remember Obama’s “exceptional” comments? Methinks he’s more interested in golfing out the next two years.
commented 2015-06-17 13:23:58 -0400
I steel don’t see where Putin is threatening, he just saying if Nato will attack Russia over Crimea , Russia has to be ready to all possibility’s which includes Nuclear war. Hi is Russian president and has obligation to defend his own people. And about provocation, steel no body explained to me why is Nato moving closer and closer to Russian borders. If that not provocation, then i don’t know what is. If Nato will get out of most off Eastern Europe this madness will stop, but sadly . Americans want to be needed and for that Russia has to be “bad”. Just imagine, Russia and Mexico made agreement to put Russian army with “defensive” capabilities on USA- Mexico border. How long do you think Mexico will last, you know and i know not that long. Sometimes look at the situation from Russias point of view, so you will have more balanced view.
commented 2015-06-17 12:28:35 -0400
Ramaz. This is one of many, many articles to be found regarding Russia’s threat of Nuclear War. This one has reference to Nuclear War over Europe. You think that is not provocation?

commented 2015-06-17 08:43:42 -0400
I maybe “simple”,all those things you said below it’s little political games and they are from both sides( look how much hatred comes from Baltic states toward Russia). I ask you again, show me the facts that Russia wants to occupy Baltic states and you are so blinded by your hatred to Russia you don’t even see it’s all ready occupied by Nato . So i maybe “simple”, at list i’m not blinded by hatred – Russia in it’s borders, America is all over Europe and Russia is aggressor – funny.
commented 2015-06-17 03:39:13 -0400
Well “bla bla bla” to you Ramaz Koen is you don’t think Russia has designs on “tiny” Estonia and “tiny” Latvia and “tiny” Lithuania as well! Why else have there been cyber attacks on the Estonian government and Moscow-promoted agitation of Russian speaking minorities, who have never bothered to learn the local languages in 70 years (!), so they COULD achieve voting rights in the Baltics!. And what about attempts to declare some kind of a false autonomy for Russians – deliberately flooded into The Baltics post WWII ? What about the “Province of Russia” subversive movement centred in Daugavpils in Latvia in the past three years? What about weekly “testing” of Baltic airspace and seaspace in recent years by Russian forces? NATO is not “looking for excuses” to position rapid response brigades… They have an obligation to do so given Rasputin’s dream of recreating the Soviet Union…. If you are “not a lefty” Ramaz, you sure are “simple”….
commented 2015-06-16 23:07:56 -0400
Rick, By the way to call me lefty it’s like hitting me below the belt, because i’m supporting Russia in this conflict doesn’t mean i’m lefty, i just like the truth, not the lays sometimes our government and media tell us. Try to dig deeper then just to read headlines.
commented 2015-06-16 22:35:49 -0400
Maurice, by funding the government protesters and by that funding the overthrowing government, and to Rick, ya Russia can’t live without tiny Estonia, don’t be silly and don’t listen what Americans trying to tell you make your own research and you see that Nato is looking for every reason to put more bases in Eastern Europe, find anywhere where Russia threatens Baltic states, except in their mind. Show facts not CNN bla bla bla
commented 2015-06-16 20:54:37 -0400
Maurice. Don’t expect an answer from Ramaz. The fact that Putin is now threatening other Baltic States, with nuclear weapons if opposed, is now irrelevant from a lefty point of view……!