New Ideas for Strengthening Sanctions against the Russian Federation to Help End Russia's Invasion of Ukraine
Some say there are no more sanctions that can be implemented. We disagree!
For a year now, I have helped coordinate an international working group on Russian sanctions. This week, we released “Working Group Paper #11: Action Plan 2.0 Strengthening Sanctions against the Russian Federation.” I’m posting the introduction to the paper here, followed by the link to read it in full. And we are always looking for new ideas. If you have any, please share!
Introduction to “Working Group Paper #11: Action Plan 2.0 Strengthening Sanctions against the Russian Federation.”
In response to Russia’s barbaric February 2022 invasion and occupation of Ukraine, a coalition of four dozen countries has implemented the most comprehensive sanctions ever against Russia. The number and severity of these sanctions have been impressive. Sanctions imposed to date have reduced Russia’s resources for waging its war against Ukraine, further isolated the Russian economy from the world, and levied real costs on Russian individuals and companies supporting Russia’s war effort. Vladimir Putin has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. Most importantly, the sanctions coalition remains strong and dedicated, demonstrating readiness to implement further actions against Russia.
Tragically, however, Russia’s army continues to kill Ukrainians – both soldiers and civilians – and occupy Ukrainian territory, blatantly violating human rights and the most fundamental international laws. Russia's actions also have threatened the security and well-being of millions outside Ukraine. Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports and its disruption of food and fertilizer supply chains exacerbates global food security.
The only way to stop the ongoing killing, suffering, and economic destruction is to defeat the Russian military and force Russian soldiers to withdraw from Ukraine’s sovereign territory. The Armed Forces of Ukraine are achieving that objective on the battlefield. With military assistance from partner countries, Ukrainian soldiers can expel Russian soldiers from Ukraine`s territory. But they need help from the international community. By weakening Russia’s military capabilities and reducing the Kremlin’s resources to finance this war, new and better sanctions can provide the needed support. Countries seeking to end this war must move beyond incrementalism and impose qualitatively harsher sanctions at a much faster pace with greater enforcement. The goal of these sanctions is to end Russia’s invasion and occupation and restore Ukraine’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Until that goal is achieved, more must be done. Every day that Russian armed forces are killing Ukrainians is a day that new sanctions should be imposed.
This new paper outlines many new sanctions that should and can be imposed on Russia. The paper includes sections on (1) Strengthening Sanctions on Oil and Energy; (2) Strengthening Sanctions on Non-Energy Trade; (3) Strengthening Military Sanctions; (4) Strengthening Technology Sanctions; (5) Strengthening Financial Sanctions; (6) Confiscating Russian Assets; (7) Increasing Individual Sanctions; (8) Designating Russia as a State Sponsor of Terrorism; (9) Enhancing Disclosure Requirements; (10) Supporting Business Divestment from Russia; (11) Strengthening Enforcement; and (12) Broadening the Sanctions Coalition.
One year ago, the International Working Group on Russian Sanctions published Working Group Paper #1: Action Plan on Strengthening Sanctions against the Russian Federation. Although initially dismissed by many as too radical and not practical, many of the proposed ideas were later implemented by countries in the sanctions coalition. We applaud these countries for doing so and now call on them to do more. Since releasing that original paper, we have published nine more comprehensive working papers outlining recommendations for new sanctions, as well as numerous International Working Group on Russian Sanctions 3 other op-eds, articles, and reports. All of our working papers and publications can be found on our website.
This paper – Action Plan 2.0 – outlines a roadmap for sanctions policy development and new actions in 2023. Similar to last year, we will follow up this publication with specific papers on each section of this roadmap. Our ambition is to think creatively and provide new ideas to countries that are implementing sanctions. In proposing a new action plan, we also aim to help to stave off sanctions fatigue. Every day, Ukrainian soldiers are making the ultimate sacrifice to defend their territory, their freedom, and their democracy. The least that the rest of the democratic world can do is show more leadership in imposing and implementing sanctions to reduce Russia’s capability to kill Ukrainian soldiers and civilians, while illegally occupying Ukrainian land.
The International Working Group on Russian Sanctions aims to provide expertise and experience to governments and companies around the world by assisting with the formulation of sanctions proposals that will increase the cost to Russia of invading Ukraine and that will support democratic Ukraine in the defense of its territorial integrity and national sovereignty. Our working group is comprised of independent experts from many countries. We coordinate and consult with the Government of Ukraine and those governments imposing sanctions. This consultation process helps to inform our views, but our members express independently held opinions and do not take direction from or act at the behest of the Government of Ukraine or any other government or entity. All members of this working group participate in their private capacities. Like other papers produced by this working group, our aim is not to produce a consensus document, but instead to provide a menu of possible additional measures to be considered by governments, multilateral institutions, and private actors. The implications of every sanction have not been thoroughly analyzed, and not everyone necessarily agrees with every specific sanction or action proposed.
Read the paper here: https://fsi9-prod.s3.us-west-1.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/2023-04/russia_sanctions_working_paper_11_action_plan_2.0_v2.pdf
In my opinion, our current sanctions regime is inadequate, especially since Russia continues to find ways to import militarily useful technology to support its war against Ukraine.
I would also note that today "The Biden administration imposed sanctions on the leading security services in Russia and Iran for what it said was a pattern of wrongfully detaining Americans in an effort to use them for political leverage." (gift article linked below)
Thanks to the Working Group for these papers, they are interesting reading. A practical and perhaps dull question is how do these papers get distributed to the people who need to see them? Is the Working Group responsible for reaching out to specific recipients, are there distribution channels, or something else?