Kateryna Bandura for New Pathway – Ukrainian News.
Third of Five Articles
Highlights from the “Sanctions policies against Russian defense industry enterprises”, prepared by Oleksandr Khara, Fellow, CDS and Andrii Klymenko, Editor-in-Chief, BlackSeaNews
Russia’s distorted perception of the security issues pushes it to wage an outright war in Syria, a covert war in Ukraine, and a so-called hybrid war (by non-military means) against the West as a whole. Russia believes that U.S. global leadership is threatening primarily Russia and that any action of the United States in support of its allies and partners is seen as the realization of aggressive intentions. As such, the Putin regime is gearing up for a global conflict.
The Putin regime wants to force America to recognize Russia’s role as a great power. The illegal annexation of Crimea and the covert war in Eastern Ukraine serve this purpose. The Russian military-industrial complex (MIC) serves as the enabler for Russia’s aggressive policy as well as one of the essential components of its economy. That is why it is necessary to see sanctions against the Russian MIC as a tool of constraining the Kremlin’s aggressive policies.
Russia is not just in a state of war. It is preparing for a global conflict because, in the minds of Russia’s military and political elite, Russia can force the West to recognize its “legitimate” interests that go far beyond its borders. Thus, diplomatic maneuvers, enforcing political isolation and implementing sanctions remain the most acceptable forms of containing Russia.
The first sanctions against Russia were linked to the growing authoritarian nature of the Putin regime, its violations of rights and freedoms and problems with the rule of law. Hence, 2012 saw the adoption of the Magnitsky Act. These sanctions were meant to give the Kremlin an opportunity to consider the repercussions and to realize that the already-imposed sanctions were not the final ones. They were not meant to cause much damage to the strategic interests of the countries that introduced them, which ironically meant avoiding any damage to the Russian economy. The sanctions were intended to influence the Kremlin’s course rather than resort to punishment.
Now, it can be argued that sanctions affect Russia tremendously, setting it back by decades and significantly slowing down its progress:
The international community did not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea and made this non-recognition a part of their policy towards Russia. As such, a barrage of sanctions hit the Putin regime in response to its aggressive seizure of Crimea and the beginning of a covert war in Donbas.
Western countries held a firm consensus, taking unanimous decisions to continue the previously-imposed restrictive measures. However, current proposals to step up pressure do not command the necessary support. Moreover, representatives of some European countries whose interests have been affected by sanctions, are calling for at least a certain easing of restrictive measures as an “encouragement” to Russia. They also argue that sanctions do not work, which makes lifting them a sound idea.
There are quite legitimate grounds to expand the Crimean sanctions lists based on Russian illegal actions. Therefore, Western countries need to pay special attention to Russia’s defense enterprises that produce dual-use products that increase Russia’s aggressive potential. The likelihood of reaching a consensus on such sanctions is also increasing because Western countries may see this as an opportunity for the soft containment of Russia, since Russia poses threats to their security. Countries that take lessons from Ukraine’s recent history may use power as a substitute for the mechanisms of international law (such as sanctions), however this will further increase the chaos in international relations. The importance of resolving the Crimean issue is not limited to European security – sanctions are the most optimal instrument to resolve this issue.
Sanctions must affect companies and organizations in the defense industry, in shipbuilding and aircraft construction, in the aerospace industry, and in the electronics industry. Sanctions must damage, prevent, or slow down the development and production of military or dual-use equipment. They must also slow down Arctic exploration and militarization projects. Sanctions must also significantly impede access to finance and financial services, insurance, high technology, new materials, high-precision machines, equipment, and facilities for both the defense industry and Russian industry as a whole.
Russia will continue to be a source of threats and challenges to neighboring countries, primarily Ukraine and Georgia, and also to the West as a whole. That is why the sanctions policy should aim at slowing down the build-up of Russia’s power projection capacity, exploiting its vulnerabilities caused by its relative economic and technological backwardness.
Having formulated international legal, political and diplomatic arguments, Ukraine should promote the idea of imposing sanctions and restrictive measures against Russia. Based on the above, the practical recommendations of the paper are as follows:
Thus, sanctions and restrictive measures will punish Russia for the attempted illegal annexation of Crimea and force it to return the temporarily occupied territories to Ukraine. They will also reduce the resource base of the aggressor, slowing down Russia’s militarization, and will contain its aggressive actions in the Arctic and the Far East. Further limitation of Russia’s access to financial resources and high-tech equipment not produced in Russia will play a role similar to the practices the West enacted during the Cold War arms race.
This article is written under the Local Journalism Initiative agreement