6 min read
EU Sanctions On Russia: Voices In The Crowd

Question 1: Do you support the EU sanctions against Russia? Do you feel the current level of EU sanctions against Russia is appropriate? Or should they be removed, weakened or strengthened?

Julia from Austria: I completely support the EU sanctions against Russia. I think the EU should have sanctioned Russia even before the invasion started, when they started building up their military at the Ukrainian border because it's a rather weak response to respond to violence with sanctions. I think sanctions should be strengthened but in meaningful ways.

Florian from Belgium: I do support the sanctions. Given the EU's status, it's the only thing they can do.

Laura from Spain: If anything, they should be strengthened.

Luis from France: I didn't follow too much, but from what I've seen Russia's behavior is tough to ignore. We don't have fun like that, we don't act like that. It's unbearable to see a war, it kills people and creates famine. It should not be allowed to become the new normal in Ukraine. I don't know the current level of sanctions but I support strong economic penalties for their behavior. The problem is that we have delegated too many things to other countries, especially oil. People don't want to be deprived. For example, Levothyrox, my medicine, is made in China or Russia. So this is just one example of the fact that we need to be more independent.

Tomas from Poland: Yes, I support the sanctions against Russia. However, I'm not sure if the way they are currently enforced is good or if they're achieving their intended goals. Sanctions should stop Russia from further actions in Ukraine but they haven't changed anything.

Domagoj from Croatia: I strongly support the EU sanctions against Russia, yet I consider the current level of EU sanctions as inadequate. The sanctions should be strengthened and focused on the primary incomes which keep the Russian economy afloat – natural and carbon resources. However, this scenario is unlikely to occur at the present moment, primarily because of the EU's dependence on Russia, but the EU should cut its energy trade in the near future, after this dependence has been reduced. In the meanwhile, support for Ukraine must endure and the EU must strive to increase it as much as possible.

Alice from Germany: I think the sanctions are appropriate, I support the sanctions. I would also support stronger sanctions, such as a Visa ban.

Gabriel from Italy: I don't agree with the way the EU is conducting sessions, because they mainly go after oligarchs, which is not as effective. It needs to have a repercussion on Russia and Putin and many of these people have nothing to do with the Russian government's decision. I know someone whose finances were weakened because of these sanctions, for no reason whatsoever, he doesn't have any association with Putin.

Benjamin from the Netherlands: Personally I think the EU sanctions against Russia are appropriate. The EU has put some sanctions on Russia that have had a massive impact, and in my opinion the EU should be careful not to cause extreme poverty, famine and death among the poor population in Russia. It should be taken into account that the Russian government clearly does not have their own population's best interest in mind. I believe sanctions didn’t have a chance at stopping Russia's invasion. Putin obviously saw these sanctions coming long before he launched the invasion, and was prepared to face them.

Question 2: Have you felt the economic impact of the sanctions on your everyday finances?

Julia from Austria: We've definitely felt the economic impact of the sanctions here, prices are up for everything. I don't know if that's caused by the sanctions or companies in the middle have been raising prices and blaming it on the war, but we’ve definitely seen rising prices with everything except avocados. For some reason, avocados are still cheap.

Florian from Belgium: Yes, everything is getting more expensive. But it's reductive to see that as only caused by the sanctions. The war by itself and the disrupted supply chains + covid also contributed to that. Anyways, this should be a wake-up call for the EU to double down on their green deal and diversify their energy mix substantially. From what I hear, the 'results' on the Russian side are mixed. Seems like they can maneuver around it.

Laura from Spain: Yes.

Luis from France: I have seen the plight of people who have lost their families. The eyes of the people, the houses destroyed by the shells and the distress in the country. This war reminds me of the conflict in Yugoslavia. There is inflation because when people are afraid, it creates insecurity. This leads to prices rising, people getting scared and throwing themselves into buying a house that they might be overpaying for, maybe even by a lot. There is an appreciation of goods because people no longer want cash since the currency is worth less than before.

Tomas from Poland: I don't feel them too much, since I have no connection to the Russian market. However, people I know that had businesses in the East are struggling very hard. One of the positive aspects of the conflict and the sanctions is that illegal cigarettes in Poland are less available than before.

Domagoj from Croatia: I have felt the economic impact, since the sharp rise of the price of energy has coincided with a wave of inflation and prices of important goods for ordinary life have drastically risen in price. This effect has pushed me to drastically rethink my spending habits and save energy.

Alice from Germany: The only immediate effect I really feel are the higher energy prices. They are only indirectly related to the sanctions, I am very certain that the current stop of gas transfers in Nordstream1 is a reaction of Russia against the sanctions. Besides that, I am not aware of the sanctions in my daily budget.

Gabriel from Italy: Well I'm not living in Italy right now but I've been hearing from Israel that everything is getting more expensive and it's not just the sanctions, it's also the supply chain issues etc. I think the biggest impact for Europeans will be issues with food scarcity and an insufficient supply of energy. So Europe should try to increase its independence with Energy and reduce its dependence on Russian energy.

Benjamin from the Netherlands: I haven’t lived in the Netherlands during this time so I don’t feel the impact. My parents and friends do, some friends of mine that have cars, have complained about gas prices being extremely high. There’s also pretty high inflation at the moment, for example, groceries are getting more expensive every day. This is something my parents definitely notice and have to now take into account in their finances. It’s a substantial change. Some poorer families in my country are getting into serious financial trouble as a result of the inflation.

Question 3: Under what conditions should the EU lift the sanctions? Should they be lifted right now, after a peace agreement with Ukraine or after Putin is no longer the leader of Russia?

Julia from Austria: After there's an end to Russian violence against the Ukrainian people and there's a stable peace.

Florian from Belgium: After peace. Russia's internal politics are not to be meddled with through sanctions. We are not the US that go in, overthrow a dictator and by doing so, leave everything worse than before :p

Laura from Spain: They should only be lifted after there is a permanent peace agreement.

Luis from France: The United States says that Russia is preparing for a war to occupy a larger area of land than just the Donbass. Meanwhile, Russians can't withdraw money anymore, they're stuck right now. We should only be willing to trade with them again if the Russians stop the war. Even if we need the trade, we should wait till they stop the war. A loss of money is not worth a loss of life.I've witnessed a war in Croatia and I've seen what happens. People are miserable and some people lose their families or family members. One family member of mine lost his father. The effect of war lasts even after it ends, there is always trauma.

Tomas from Poland: The west shouldn't agree to drop the sanctions against the current government under any conditions. Russia is not a partner you can negotiate with. We should have only two options for our approach to trading with Russia. Either Russia holds elections and embraces certain western values ( such as establishing democratic rule of law, steps against corruption and creating legal protections for their citizens freedom) or we should let them stay as they are. I understand that life in Russia might be hard, and opposition to the government is difficult because of the Russian government's propaganda and security efforts. But if Russians still support this regime and its actions and they are proud of what they're doing in Ukraine, then sanctions will show them the price for their aggression in Ukraine.

Domagoj from Croatia: After Putin’s accession to power, Europe turned a blind eye on his plans for Russia and his neighborhood. It took a full-scale invasion of another country to change the perspective. Even if a peace agreement is reached the only way to lift sanctions, in my opinion, is if there is a regime change. Even if Putin loses this battle, he will start another. That must not occur. One must not go far in history to find similar regimes like his, Saddam’s Iraq and Milošević’s Serbia are quite comparable.

Alice from Germany: To me, the sanctions can be lifted after the war in Ukraine ends, but only if a peace agreement assigns Ukraine all its pre-war territories as well as Crimea. If a peace treaty would not include this, I would support further sanctions against Russia.

Gabriel from Italy: I think they should be lifted as soon as possible, because even if Putin leaves, he will be replaced by someone else and Russia’s government won't change that much.

Benjamin from the Netherlands: The sanctions that were added when the invasion started should be lifted when Russia stops their invasion. It wouldn’t make sense to keep them, as they are meant to be a punishment for their actions. The sanctions that have been there before the invasion of Ukraine should be kept. Adding more sanctions long term will cause even worse living conditions for a large part of Russia's population (which, again, their government doesn’t seem to mind). There isn’t really a good option here, overthrowing the leadership has to happen from the inside out as it always does. Sanctions are a symbol that the EU stands with Ukraine against Russian attack, but they don’t actually do much. I said they are appropriate because doing nothing would tell Russia to go right ahead and this is better than an all-out war. It’s like an in-between step, that’s why I think it’s appropriate. The actual impact of the sanctions screws over the population of both sides more than the governments.

* The email will not be published on the website.