30 Jan 2015

EU Sanctions Policy towards Russia: The Sanctioner-Sanctionee’s Game of Thrones

Tatia Dolidze

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Since Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula and the start of the conflict in the Donbass region, the EU has introduced three waves of restrictive measures against Russia, which are regularly updated. Having thus expanded from measures targeting individuals to entire sectors, the current EU sanctions policy impacts Russia’s financial markets, energy sector and defence industry. On top of this, new bans affect EU investments, services and trade in Crimea and Sevastopol.

While they hurt the Russian economy, the EU sanctions also have a boomerang effect, especially in conjunction with the countersanctions imposed by the Kremlin on EU food imports. In this lose-lose situation, the usefulness of the EU sanctions has been called into doubt, in particular in those EU member states that are the most economically intertwined with Russia.

How successful has the EU been so far in pushing its case with the Kremlin and what moves are left for the two main actors in the sanctioner-sanctionee ‘Game of Thrones’? This Working Document offers a SWOT analysis of the EU sanctions policy towards Russia and identifies the Strengths for the EU to cultivate, Weaknesses to minimise, Opportunities to seize and Threats to counteract.

Tatia Dolidze is Research Assistant at CEPS.