Policy paper 260

European Union / Russia.


Do sanctions make a policy?

Since 2014, the European Union (EU) has drafted, developed and pursued a policy of sectoral and individual sanctions against Russia. Achieving a fragile unity between Member States and asserting the European Union’s geopolitical role, the only prospect for this policy is to go on indefinitely.

Sanctions, while essential, are not the be-all and end-all of the EU’s “Russia policy”. Even though sanctions were complemented by the five guiding principles set out by Federica Mogherini in 2016, they have failed to change the Federation’s external action and have not halted the authoritarian course the regime is taking. If the European Union were to put an end to these sanctions, this would be perceived as an admission of weakness. Consequently, it must complement them with a broader and diversified strategy. Sanctions are merely a negative and defensive tactic aimed at stemming Russia’s adventurist policy. They must come under a strategy that asserts European priorities so that tangible political and economic results can be obtained.

Sanctions alone do not make a policy. However, the EU’s Russia policy cannot do without sanctions today. This is the challenge the European Union faces with Russia. ▪▪▪