In response to sanctions by the United States and the European Union in the Ukraine crisis, Russia has taken the plunge by banning imports of its agricultural and marine products. However, these restraints will only invite increased antagonism from the U.S. and the EU, and set Ukraine’s safety even farther away.
Russia’s revenge is strict, banning imports of fish, meat, fruits and vegetables for one year. And Russia’s taking steps to specify countermeasures against American and EU economic sanctions is just the beginning. However, by banning imports of European fruits and vegetables, which are sold at a low price, there is a great fear of inflation and of foodstuffs suddenly jumping in price within Russia.
Thus far, the West’s sanctions include prohibiting travel by President Putin’s close associates, among other matters. They reasoned that they were supporting military affairs against Russia, which is battling political forces after incorporating Crimea, a southern region of Ukraine, and declaring independence of other eastern regions. In July, even amid doubts that Russia was involved in the downing of a Malaysian aircraft, the West put a hold on aid to Russia by intensifying sanctions on Russian governmental banks and banning sponsoring weapons creation and offshore oil field expansion.
It is clear how the decline of Russian ruble has impacted the economy. If Russia continues to drag out its ban of agricultural and marine product imports, its economy will become frail, and it will realize that it has “[imposed] sanctions on [its] own people,” as David S. Cohen, the undersecretary of the treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, has said.
As part of its revenge, Russia is also considering restricting Russian airspace, which would prohibit European and American airline companies from sending flights from the West to Japan and the rest of Asia. This is a dangerous move reminiscent of Cold War era restrictions, during which Western airlines could not pass through Soviet airspace. Russia should not fan the flames of conflict, but instead cooperate to discover the truth behind the aircraft downing.
On the other hand, Russia’s reprisals have impacted European economy. The response to these economic concerns is a cause of great concern for world economy as a whole. From the beginning, the West’s sanctions on Russia were never meant to exclude it, but instead to ensure Ukraine’s stability and to urge Russia into cooperating to discover the truth behind the aircraft downing. It should stop any further exchange of sanctions. The international community as a whole should cooperate and discuss how they can ease tensions.
Russia opposes Japan’s conformity to the sanctions made against Russia, and yet, its import ban on foodstuffs does not include Japan. It is trying to avoid worsening its relations with Japan. Meanwhile, as Japan works to cooperate with the West, it is unsure how exactly to approach its relations with Russia. I suggest that the original discussions to continue and that a more flexible attitude be taken in regard to Russia.
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