Foreign Affairs

Do EU sanctions against Russia work?

June 2024
By Editorial Staff

The Council of Foreign Affairs on June 24th imposed a new set of sanctions against Russia. This is the 14th package adopted by the EU against Russia since February 2022. The main question arises: are the measures against Russia working? Are they causing financial strain in Moscow, cutting the country off from key markets, and significantly degrading Russia’s industrial and technological capacity?

The goal of the restrictive measures

The decision to impose packages of sanctions for the Russian invasion of Ukraine was first adopted in February 2022, right after the conflict officially started. The measures were designed to weaken Russia’s economic base by depriving it of essential technologies and markets and significantly limiting its military capability. These measures are imposed not just on Russia, but also on any country or entity that supports Russia’s aggression in any way. In this context, the EU has also adopted sanctions against Belarus and North Korea in response to their involvement in the invasion of Ukraine, and against Iran in relation to the use of Iranian drones in the Russian aggression towards Ukraine.

Nearly two and a half years into the conflict, there are no signs of it ending soon. People are wondering whether the sanctions imposed are working, and if they are, why they are not enough to bring about a resolution.

Here’s some datas

According to a 2023 study by the European Commission, the restrictive measures are unprecedented in their scope, focusing on key sectors of the Russian economy that are crucial to Moscow’s war effort. They are, in fact, showing how to impact Russia’s power in the long term.

According to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 2022 was a negative year for the Russian economy. Estimates indicate that in 2022, Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP) decreased by 2.1%. Manufacturing in particular—growing steadily before the invasion—was down 6% at the end of 2022, with high and medium-high technology manufacturing recording a 13% annual loss. The production of motor vehicles was down 48% year-on-year, other transport equipment by 13%, and computer, electronic, and optical production by 8%, while retail trade was 10% lower and wholesale trade 17%.

Compared to 2021, 58% of total EU imports from Russia were already cut off in 2022. Non-energy imports from Russia have fallen close to 60%, with the most visible drops in iron and steel, precious metals, and wood. This movement is accelerating: the decline in imports of non-energy goods was above 75% in the first quarter of 2023, and the fall is even greater for energy goods, at minus 80%.

Since August 2022, the EU has completely stopped importing Russian coal, impacting around 25% of Russian coal exports. G7+ energy sanctions have been effective, leading to a drop in the price of Russian oil and a 27% decrease in Russian oil revenues compared to the previous year.

One step torwards

“With this package, we will have over one hundred listings to cut Russia’s revenues, at least in gas and energy. We renewed our support to Ukraine; it’s one of the most important issues. It’s clear that Putin wants to prove that Ukraine is vulnerable, and we have to prove that we support Ukraine.” That was the conclusion from the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, at the margin of the Council. “With this 14th package, we sent a clear message to Russia.” Moreover, the enlargement process to include Ukraine is another step in supporting the country against the Russian invasion.