Ukraine: Britons discuss their thoughts on the UK's involvement
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Reports this morning suggested the European Union is preparing to “carve out exceptions” in its sanctions against Moscow. These would be aimed at unlocking assets at Russian banks linked to trade in food and fertiliser, amid worries of international food shortages. In the UK, on the other hand, Tory leadership contenders are insisting they would maintain the country’s level of support for Ukraine and have even been invited by a Ukrainian MP to meet Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv and discuss the policies they would adopt relating to the conflict when in Number 10.
Some commentators have described the EU’s move as unsurprising – inevitable, perhaps, given the damage done by sanctions at home as well as abroad.
Journalist Ben Arts wrote in a post on Twitter: “I’ve said from start the sanctions would be leaky.
“Some leaks provided by Russia friends like China India oil imports. Others provided by West itself as grain fertiliser.”
He added: “It’s impossible to lock Russia’s economy up completely and leaks remain significant.”
Ben Habib has added that such a step back was inevitable given the EU’s – particularly Germany’s – dependence on Russia for energy.
The former Brexit Party MEP said the country’s foreign policy approach of “relying on Russia while antagonising it… could not have been worse”.
He told Express.co.uk: “The EU is deeply conflicted over Russia mainly because of Germany’s dependence on Russian gas and oil. [Former German Chancellor Angela] Merkel was repeatedly warned by many the reliance was dangerous but she eschewed nuclear power in favour of dependence on a fickle and often hostile source for Germany’s power.
“The EU then went on to pull Russia’s tail by seeking to turn Ukraine’s head westward. Financial aid was offered in competition with Russia. That first brush resulted in the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
READ MORE: Putin forming alliance of ‘pariah states’
“Now the EU is schizophrenic over sanctions. Paying lip service to them but simultaneously buying Russian fuel. In total some 50 billion euros since the Ukraine war commenced.
“So it’s no surprise they are now contemplating allowing trade with Russian banks over food and fertilisers.”
The value of sanctions against Russia has been brought into question both because of concern about the impact on home economies and because of Moscow’s ability to sidestep sanctions by upping alliances with other nations.
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The Kremlin, according to Mark Almond, Director of the Crisis Research Institute, Oxford, is now forging a new alliance of “pariah states” that poses a “graver threat” to the West than the USSR.
He wrote in the Mail: “In the first Cold War, the West wrestled with both communist ideology as well as Russian power, looming threats that terrified us for years.
“Today, the threat has changed and comes in the form of a permanently outlawed Russia, a vast Eurasian state in partnership with China, Iran and other pariah states – a threat that looms large across the entire Northern hemisphere.”
Mr Habib suggested that in the face of such positioning, the EU imposed sanctions against Russia not because they would work but because they would make the Brussels bloc look good.
The Brexit Watch Chairman said: “The fact is sanctions are not working. Russia’s economy is underpinned by the export of oil and gas and related products. These exports continue in significant part because of the EU.
“Perversely, Russia also has the benefit of not having to service its international debt since it has been cut out of international clearing systems. In some respects Russia is actually benefitting from sanctions!
“The EU is squarely in the crosshairs of blame. As ever their moral rectitude is only rhetorical.”
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