Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation, signing the NATO-Russia Declaration, 28 May 2002
The members of the G-20 international forum met this past week in Brisbane, Australia for their annual summit, where they discussed strategies to promote international financial stability for all member countries. As discussed by Diplomacist writer Kwame Newton, global climate policy and its strong economic effects were unfortunately ruled off the table of discussion. Prior to the November G-20 summit, President Vladimir Putin raised awareness of the economic problems affecting Russia and stated in an interview that the sanctions not only harm Russia’s economy directly but also “undermine the whole system of international economic relations.”
With these expectations in place, world leaders of the G-20 summit heavily criticized Putin for spearheading the destabilization of Ukraine and for violating international law. This prompted the Russian president’s early departure, although he noted that the reason was entirely unrelated to the emphasis the summit placed on Russia’s recent misconduct. Speculation resulting from the summit has called into question whether or not Western states will introduce further sanctions on Russia.
Regarding the current state of US-Russian relations, President Obama signed three executive orders back in March authorizing “sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.” In addition to each executive order, the Department of Treasury imposed sanctions that further elevated the economic seclusion of Russia. The purpose of these actions was to target individuals of high leadership, including the entities that they control, which range from major Russian railroads to key oil companies. These measures were also coordinated on a united front with the EU and other international associates in order to express a strong resistance.
Initially, the restriction of not doing business with entities that deal in dollars was to have an extraordinary effect. However, within recent months many leaders have observed that the sanctions have been largely ineffectual. Although they have hurt the Russian economy, the sanctions have had no evident mark on President Putin’s military strategy. Both US Senators Dianne Feinstein and John McCain agreed that the layers of restrictions on the Russian economy have induced little change in their military actions toward Ukraine. With European dependence on Russia’s energy reserves and relatively weak economic sanctions, Russia has had little reason to contain its military policies — and leaders around the world are taking notice.
The German Minister for Economic Affairs, for instance, recently declared his disapproval for further economic sanctions on Russia, explaining that it would not entice Russia to work with Western powers, but rather encourage them to find allies in other areas. An example of this is the $400 billion gas agreement that the Kremlin has made with China. Deals similar to this one may accurately depict what Russian diplomacy will look like in the coming years. The lack of effective sanctions on Russia call into question what further actions Western powers will take against Russia in order to protect Ukraine and avoid the destabilization of the world economy.
Image Attribution: “Russian President Vladimir Putin signing the Rome Declaration” by NATO-Russia Council, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0