Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

with Edward Christie, Velina Tchakarova, Igor Burakovsky and Olga Pindyuk

Date: Tuesday, 15 February 2022, 15:00-16:00 CET

This is an online event via Zoom.

(Registration link:

The following questions will be addressed:

  • Can the EU and US change Russian policy on Ukraine via sanctions?
  • What type of sanctions could be an efficient deterrent in the case of Russia?
  • How badly would the EU be affected by economic and financial sanctions on Russia?
  • What are the main threats to EU energy security and how can the EU reduce its energy dependence on Russia?

While relations between Russia and the West have long been difficult, in 2014 they took an abrupt turn for the worse, after Russia illegally annexed Crimea and stirred up separatist insurgencies in Donbas. To defuse the crisis, the West has pursued a two-track approach in its policy towards Russia: negotiations on hard security questions, and economic and diplomatic sanctions.

So far, this approach has had little success. Two formal agreements with Russia, Minsk I and II, have failed to halt the conflict in the Donbas region. Sanctions introduced against Russia have had a limited effect, and Western cohesiveness has sometimes been undermined by often fundamental differences of approach and priorities between the US and some EU countries. Meanwhile, broader West-Russia relations have further deteriorated as new sources of tension have emerged, such as Russia’s military intervention in Syria, alleged Russian interference in EU and US politics. Most recently, the West has alleged that Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine, which would be the most substantial ground war in Europe since the end of World War II.

Formulating a coherent set of policies to deter possible invasion and de-escalate the conflict is a difficult task for the US and EU. First, Russia has made itself at least partly ‘sanctions proof’ in the period since 2014 owing to (1) conservative monetary and fiscal policy, which has allowed the build-up of substantial foreign reserves, and (2) very low levels of external debt and a current account surplus, which limit external exposure. Second, the EU is far from united on the question, with parts of the political and business elite in major countries such as Germany very wary about escalation. While the US and UK have sent defensive weaponry to Kyiv, Berlin is declining to do so. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition government has sent mixed signals over whether it is prepared to halt the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline if Russian troops enter Ukraine.

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