Tag Archives: Russian sanctions over the Ukraine and Crimea

The Russian Economy slows…

Oil prices have dropped and the Sanction by America and Europe connected to the Ukraina , have bitten into the Russian economy….

Will this bother Russian leader Putin?

Russians are experiencing the first sustained decline in living standards in the 15 years since President Vladimir V. Putin came to power. The ruble has fallen by half against the dollar, driven by the plunging price of oil, the lifeblood of Russia’s economy. As a result, prices of imported goods have shot up, making tea, instant coffee, children’s clothes and back-to-school backpacks suddenly, jarringly expensive.

Making matters worse are the retaliatory bans that Russia placed on food imports after the United States and the European Union imposed sanctions for its actions in Ukraine, a policy that took a turn for the weird this month when the government destroyed thousands of tons of what it said were illegally imported foodstuffs including cheese and peaches.

The reduced supply means that what remains costs more, even if it is locally produced. Russians are paying a third more for sunflower oil, a fifth more for yogurt and three-quarters more for carrots compared with a year ago, according to government statistics. (The Western sanctions, for their part, have driven up the cost of borrowing for Russian companies, but they have not had a direct role in the inflation that is raiding Russian pocketbooks.)

Inflation has reduced the purchasing power of Russian wages by more than 8 percent in the second quarter, compared with the same period last year, according to figures published by Russia’s Central Bank at the end of July. And in a sign that the worst is far from over, the economy contracted by a steep 4.6 percent in the second quarter, compared with last year, and officially entered its first recession since 2009.

“It’s horrible,” said Elena Shcherbakova, a 47-year-old shoe saleswoman whose income, based in part on commissions, has fallen nearly a third since last year. She says she now shops at discount supermarkets, buys the cheapest kind of sausage and carefully counts containers of yogurt instead of throwing them into her cart by the handful the way she used to.

It is not clear what, if anything, this means for Mr. Putin. The trouble pales in comparison with the turbulent 1990s, when people’s wages went down by nearly half. Russians have an immense capacity for stoicism, and ubiquitous home gardens make budgets more flexible. Mr. Putin’s popularity ratings have remained high since last year’s annexation of Crimea, which was wildly popular among Russians…..


Western Europe wants talk on the Ukraine…Russian President Putin continues to gobble it up….

Germany, France and Britain ALL do trade with the Russians….

Germany does a LOT….

President Obama in America is 5,000 or so miles away and under pressure from the Ukrainians and his Congress to supply HEAVY weapons to the Ukrainian military which IS facing rebels that DO have heavy weapons and MANPOWER from Russia…

Make no mistake ….If Russia wanted to roll over the Ukraine and probably half of Europe they COULD do so in a manner of weeks…

The Europeans ARE afraid on THAT and their economies, which depend on Putin’s Russia…Could bottom out if Russia is completely cut off….

So while the Americans level sanctions and the Russian economy goes soft under American President Obama ‘soft power’ moves? …Europe indicates that it is willing to give up the Ukraine , which isn’t really in their club …And does NOT want to piss Putin off too much…

Differences within the Western alliance over whether to send defensive arms to Ukraine were thrust into the open on Saturday when Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, bluntly opposed providing lethal military support to Kiev and called instead for continued efforts to persuade Russia and separatist forces to cease fire.

“The progress that Ukraine needs cannot be achieved by more weapons,” she told a security conference here. Instead, she spoke of how Western values and persistence won the Cold War.

Ms. Merkel’s position was challenged by Senator Bob Corker, a Republican of Tennessee who is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who noted that there was growing support in the American Congress for arming Ukraine.

Malcolm Rifkind, the former British foreign secretary and Conservative politician, said it was unlikely a peace agreement could be reached unless there was a combination of military assistance and diplomacy, so that the Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine faced tougher Ukrainian resistance.

The pointed exchanges laid bare the divisions within the West’s ranks and did not provide a sense of how the United States and its European allies hoped to fashion a common strategy that might persuade President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to honor an agreement negotiated in Minsk, Belarus, in September. The agreement called for a cease-fire and the removal of Russian weapons and forces from eastern Ukraine.

Ms. Merkel did not say if she had made any headway in her talks in Moscow on Friday with Mr. Putin and the French president, François Hollande, who has also opposed arming the Ukrainians but is eager to fulfill an existing contract to sell warships to Russia if the crisis eases.

Ms. Merkel drew parallels to the containment policy that brought an end to the Cold War and suggested that a prolonged period of economic sanctions was the best strategy, though one, she acknowledged, that might not work in the end….


Putin is disinvited to the Group of 8 Meetings this go around……


In a symbolic move….

The leaders of the largest economic countries in the world have voted to exclude Russian President Putin from this weeks get together and move the G–8 meeting that was supposed to be in June in  Sochi, Russia to Brussels’s the NATO headquarters…..

There is talk of deeper economic sanctions that could imposed on Russia, but a move like that is certain to goat Putin into further moves of his own against the European economies….

The United States and its closest allies on Monday cast Russia out of the Group of 8 industrialized democracies, their most exclusive club, to punish President Vladimir V. Putin for his lightning annexation of Crimea, while threatening tougher sanctions if he escalates aggression against Ukraine.

President Obama and the leaders of Canada, Japan and Europe’s four strongest economies gathered for the first time since the Ukraine crisis erupted last month, using a closed two-hour meeting on the sidelines of a summit about nuclear security to project a united front against Moscow.

But they stopped short, at least for now, of imposing sanctions against what a senior Obama administration official called vital sectors of the Russian economy: energy, banking and finance, engineering and the arms industry. Only further aggression by Mr. Putin — like rolling his forces into the Ukrainian mainland — would prompt that much-harsher punishment, the countries indicated in their joint statement, called the Hague Declaration.

“The biggest hammer that can drop is sectoral sanctions, and the clearest trigger for those is eastern and southern Ukraine,” the senior administration official said.

Some critics of the administration said the suspension of Russia from the G-8, which administration officials acknowledged was largely symbolic, showed a lack of resolve among the allies to take tougher steps to undo Mr. Putin’s annexation of Ukraine.

But it signified a firming of Western resolve compared with the early days of the Crimea crisis, when Germany and some other allies said it was premature to consider excluding Russia from the club of industrial democracies. Having Russia as part of that group since 1998 was meant to signal cooperation between East and West, and its exclusion inevitably raises new echoes of Cold War-style rivalry.

Announcing that they would boycott a Group of 8 meeting planned for Sochi — Mr. Putin’s Black Sea showcase for the recent Winter Olympics — the seven countries who met here said they would instead gather by themselves in June in Brussels, headquarters of NATO and the European Union….