Where finance and media intersect with reality


Is the West Quietly Initiating Russian Sanctions Theatre?

Screenshot 2022-11-23 at 18.30.41

Well looky here.

The United Kingdom imported around £200mn worth of Russian oil since March, according to the Sunday Times.

Much of that sanctions-circumventing oil was transferred into British ports as a result of Russian ships carrying out ship-to-ship transfers at sea to conceal their port of origin. The cargoes were then declared as originating from other European countries.

Meanwhile in Europe, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that the EU had softened its stance on an outright Russian oil price-cap plan from December 5 onwards, moving to add a 45-day grace period to its original cut off point.

We all feared, of course, that Russian sanctions would encourage the fragmentation of the world into allied economic spheres via 'friendshoring'. But the reality seems to suggest that where there are needs there are ways.

The sanctions as they exist certainly present an obstacle for Russian capital, assets, and products in the West. But the example of Iran already proves such blocks are not insurmountable in the short or medium term. And in the case of Russia it's becoming clear several loopholes and exemptions impede their maximum effect.

Sanctions Barrage

When the conflict started in February, the European Union, the United States, Australia and Japan loudly and proudly combined to enforce sanction after sanction on Russia to cripple its economic and warfighting capabilities.

The most important salvos came from the EU and the US, which prohibited Russian crude and oil product imports from December of this year to February 2023. But the decision also stretched beyond oil and sanctions against Kremlin-connected elites to banning the export of tech, industrial machinery, luxury goods and dual-use goods like drones to Russia. The import of staple Russian goods like coal, steel, gold, cement, seafood and cigarettes was also prohibited.

Another salvo are the proposed price caps already referred to above. Despite the fanfare about their implementation, the details of th...

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