Written by Vedika Pathania, a second-year journalism student
It has been a while since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and news about it is everywhere. While we broadly understand what war means, understanding the other details and aspects of it can get quite tricky.
We hence bring you a series where we will break down topics that will help you understand not just the Russian-Ukrainian war, but also give you an insight into International Relations and the economic-geopolitical landscapes of the past and the present.
For the past couple of months, the word ‘sanctions’ has been everywhere. From news channels to Whatsapp forwards, we’ve all heard about how the United States and multiple European nations have imposed sanctions on Russia in response to Russian invasion of Ukraine.
However, it can be very difficult to understand the geopolitical situation. So, let us break sanctions down for you. What do they mean, why are they imposed, the different types, what are the sanctions imposed on Russia and do they work?
Let’s go step by step.
What are sanctions?
Here is an easy way to understand it- Countries across the globe engage in trade in what we know as imports (what we buy from other nations) and exports (what we sell to other nations). For example, India exports jewellery and gems to the US, Europe, Japan and China and imports mineral fuels from Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Imagine if political tensions increased between India and the US. The US might impose sanctions on India and hence ban or greatly minimise trade of gems. Because India sells these gems, a ban on these sales would be a huge economic loss for India.
Similarly, if tensions between India and Saudi Arabia rise, India might impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia and stop importing fuel; this would cause them an economic loss.
Here, we need to understand, that these trades between nations aren’t of a small value; they cross billions of US dollars.
This is exactly what sanctions are. Sanctions are coercive measures that can be applied to relations between nations, imposed by one country against another, or by an organisation such as the United Nations.
Sanctions have been a common device in international relations, peacekeeping, and conflict resolution as states increasingly use them to fight economically rather than physically. They are imposed to discourage aggressive behaviour or violations of international law. Sanctions are among the most severe steps that a country may take short of going to war.
What are the different types of sanctions?
Some sanctions have placed restrictions on certain activities that are thought to assist a target, such as diplomatic, sports, and cultural interactions, as well as travel. They’ve also targeted specific persons and groups, including political leaders, rebel groups, and terrorist organisations, that present a threat to peace and security.
The example given above is a kind of economic sanction.
Sanctions against the economy are varied. Travel restrictions and financial sanctions are frequently used. Targeted asset freezes (funds) and restrictions on a wide range of financial markets and services (imports and exports) are among the financial sanctions.
Military sanctions can vary from precisely targeted military operations to weaken a country’s conventional or non-conventional capabilities to a less severe arms embargo that cuts off shipments of weaponry.
An arms embargo is a limitation or set of restrictions that apply to weaponry or “dual-use technologies”.
Diplomatic sanctions are diplomatic and political measures used to communicate disapproval or discontent with a specific action rather than hurting economic or military relations. Limiting or cancelling high-level government visits, as well as dismissing or withdrawing diplomatic missions or employees, are some of the examples.
Some of the sanctions on Russia
Source: BBC News https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-60125659
- The UK and EU have prohibited the export of luxury items to Russia, including automobiles, high-end fashion, and art.
- Some Russian imports, including vodka, will be subject to a 35 percent tax in the United Kingdom.
- The UK, EU, US, and others are imposing a restriction on the shipment of items used by Russian businesses.
- All Russian flights have been barred from flying over the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Canada. Private planes rented by Russians are likewise prohibited in the United Kingdom.
- Hundreds of Russian government members and wealthy business figures have been sanctioned by the UK, EU, and US.
- All Russian oil and gas imports are prohibited in the United States, and Russian oil will be phased out in the United Kingdom by the end of 2022.
- Some Russian banks have been dropped from the Swift international financial messaging system, which is used to send money around the world. This will cause a delay in payments to Russia for energy exports.