The Western political, economic and military sanctions toward Russia have been applied since the Ukraine crisis started in 2014 and the aim of the sanctions has been to force Russia to change its policy. Although the sanctions may have deterred Russia from a more aggressive course, Russian military interventions in eastern Ukraine continues and the Crimea remains under Russian control. Tensions between the West and Russia have increased and Western cohesion is under threat. On 17 January, experts from IFS, King's College and DnB discussed this important question at a seminar chaired by Professor Kåre Dahl Martinsen (IFS).
In the first panel Johan Teigland (Head of Business Relations in Group Compliance at DnB Bank), Martinsen and Tracey German (Deputy Dean at the Defence Studies Department, King's College) gave perspectives from Norway, Germany and the UK. Teigland explained that, from the bank's perspective, the sanctions are costly and complex. Martinsen argued that the sanctions was problematic from a German and European perspective, but that Russian interference – covert and overt – in European politics is attracting more political and public attention in the West. German argued that the sanctions had a lot of support in the UK, but that they had rather limited implications since trade between Russia and the UK is small. There had been more serious implications regarding military cooperation between the countries.
In the second panel Ellen Hallams (Senior Lecturer at the Defence Studies Department, King's College), Ruth Deyermond (Lecturer at the Department of War Studies, King's College) and Ingerid Opdahl (Associate Professor at IFS) gave perspectives from NATO, the US and Russia. Hallams put the sanctions in a wider context, and argued that the international system was in crises. She underlined that the recent re-opened talks within the frame of the NATO-Russia Council was important for de-escalating the situation. Deyermond argued that Russia's behaviour had not changed since the sanctions started; what had changed was US attitudes as a result of the election of Donald Trump. We could expect a down-scaling of the sanctions from the US side, she argued. Opdahl explained that Russia and Vladimir Putin had a totally different view of the sanctions; that the purpose of the sanctions was to humiliate Russia. The personal sanctions against Putin's supporters apparently had only fuelled their loyalty towards Putin.
The two panels was followed by lively Q) and A) sessions where the alternatives to sanctions, the purpose of the sanctions, and the long term effects of sanctions where discussed.
Summary by Magnus Petersson