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EU’s von der Leyen is dead wrong on anti-Russian sanctions, and here’s why — RT Russia and the former Soviet Union

Common bloc figurehead says Moscow presides over ‘tattered’ economy, but we’ve heard that before

By Ivan Timofeevdirector of the Valdai club program and one of Russia’s leading foreign policy experts.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen has predictably called for new sanctions against Russia in upcoming referendums in Donbass and two regions of Ukraine. These concern the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk – which have been de facto autonomous since 2014 – and the regions of Kherson and Zaporozhye.

According to her, the sanctions already imposed on Russia are having an impact.“The sanctions have been very effective. If you look at the Russian economy, its industry is in tatters,” said the politician.

Let us have a little chat with Mrs von der Leyen.

The main measure of the effectiveness of sanctions is whether they change the political course of the target country. This criterion has been the subject of much research in the academic and applied literature and few people have doubts about its veracity.

However, Russia has not changed its political course in Ukraine under the influence of large-scale sanctions from the EU, the United States and other initiators. Moreover, its position is hardening, as evidenced by the announcements this week of both a partial mobilization and referendums.

Thus, we can say that the measures actually have a negative effect on what they are supposed to do.

Apparently Ms von der Leyen links effectiveness to the amount of pain inflicted. In other words, she believes the bigger the better.

There are problems here too. The damage is indeed significant. But we don’t just sit back and feel sorry for ourselves. We are adapting very vigorously.

Now you can criticize Russia’s domestic financial policy and question import substitution as much as you want. And they won’t, of course, ‘just as it was’. But it is clear that the economy is contracting much less than expected, that inflation is, at least so far, under control and that the adjustments in supplies, helped by domestic production, are mitigating the effects of the sanctions.

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The economy just becomes different. It changes in terms of focus and quality. In a number of areas it will “run slower” or limp. But Russia will live on.

Of course we’ve heard the words before the Russian economy is in tatters,” of US President Barack Obama.

It was in 2015. Seven years ago.

The effectiveness of measures can also be assessed in terms of their impact on business behavior.

There are many effects here. Hundreds of Western companies left Russia, suffering losses for themselves and losing their market share.

Does this mean that the niches they occupied will remain empty? No, this is not the case. They are already actively exploited by Russian rivals, as well as Chinese, Iranian, Indian and other entrepreneurs and companies.

We ourselves, of course, can hardly be complacent. The problems we face are many and most of them have to be dealt with by firefighters.

Right now we are waiting for a new sanctions package from the EU and other Western actors.

Let’s see what they offer.

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