Members' Research Service By / February 21, 2023

Russia’s war against Ukraine: US sanctions

On 24 February 2022, Russia unleashed an undeclared war against Ukraine, a country it had invaded and partially occupied in 2014.

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Written by Marcin Szczepański.

The United States (US) has been imposing sanctions on Russia since its illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. Since the outbreak of Russia’s war on Ukraine in February 2022, these sanctions have become increasingly severe and far-reaching. The US, together with the European Union and other close allies, has targeted Russian assets, international trade and the economic sectors involved in the war, as well as specific individuals and entities engaged in sanctioned activities.

The sanctions seek to weaken Russia’s ability to wage war by dampening its financial capacity and economy, and by blocking its various sectors, such as industry, defence and energy, from accessing technology and inputs. They are also meant as punishment for Russian elites and their cronies involved in many aspects of the war, from financing to disinformation.

To apply the abovementioned sanctions, the US cooperates with the EU through various fora such as the Trade and Technology Council, focused on export controls. A similar forum is the G7, which is pivotal in the flagship actions against the invaders; examples include blocking Russian banks’ access to the SWIFT payments system and introducing an oil price cap. While often identical or similar, the US and the EU sanction regimes differ in terms of the activities covered and persons and entities targeted.

While all these sanctions have had a tangible negative impact on Russia’s economy and long-term competiveness, they cannot materialise with the same speed as a military attack. Moreover, Russia is making continuous and active efforts to dodge these sanctions, not without help from its allies and trading partners, albeit with varying degrees of success.

The European Parliament has been a staunch supporter of introducing and maintaining sweeping and regularly revised sanctions against Russia. It has also voiced its support for strong transatlantic cooperation on sanctions and has urged the Council of the EU to substantially widen their coverage.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Russia’s war against Ukraine: US sanctions‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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