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Sanction Crimea, Not the Kremlin

Published: March 27, 2014 (Issue # 1803)


The conflict between Russia and the Western world has created a complicated dilemma. The West feels compelled to respond to Russia's open violation of international and legal norms but is afraid to disrupt economic ties with Russia and undermine the economic growth that is starting to take place in the U.S. and some parts of Europe. This dilemma explains why the West chose narrow sanctions, but they are largely ineffective.

It seems strange to apply sanctions against "Putin's friends" for example, businessmen Arkady and Boris Rotenberg. Even if Putin and the two brothers are old friends from St. Petersburg, nobody really believes they could talk Putin out of taking decisive action. And even if they feel a little pain from the sanctions, surely Putin has ways of making up for the loss.

The annexation of Crimea caused the present conflict with the West. But is it fair to blame ordinary Russians for the Kremlin's aggression? The West has nothing to gain from undermining the Russian economy. Therefore, the sanctions should be extremely focused on Crimea.

Not a single major country has recognized the legitimacy of the annexation. Thus, Crimea is a territory de facto occupied by a foreign state. The most effective sanctions would therefore apply to companies working in the occupied zone.

The West should target all individuals and companies complicit in the crime. All State Duma deputies who voted in favor of annexing Crimea should become personae non gratae. Whatever faults Bank Rossiya might have, it holds no direct connection to the Kremlin's adventurism.

When sanctions are applied, they should be a response to actions, not an attempt to forestall them. Any business that carries out operations on occupied territory is contributing to the occupation and should therefore be subjected to sanctions.

If, for example, Aeroflot has flights to Simferopol, its agreements with Europe and the U.S. should be suspended. If Sberbank opens branch offices in Yalta, no bank in the world should honor Sberbank cards or accounts. If Gazprom lays a pipeline across the Kerch Strait, its South Stream project should be shut down.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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