Kallas: Sanctions Will Hit Russia Harder Than Recoil for EU
In an interview in Eesti Päevaleht over the weekend, largely focusing on EU-Russia ties and developments in transport, outgoing European Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas said that although Russia acts like it doesn't need the EU or Western banks, the country would not be able to go it alone.
Kallas told interviewer Susann Kivi that Russia was entering deepening isolation after the third round of sanctions, including halting a process of unifying aviation rules with the EU that Kallas had worked toward. Kallas said isolation will strain finances and Russia may even have to take Soviet-style steps prevent the ruble from being freely traded against the dollar.
Asked how Europe - in particular the Netherlands with Rotterdam port and Germany with its gas dependence - would fare after the third round of sanctions was agreed, Kallas argued that some think tanks have put Russia's share in Europe's total foreign trade at a much lower level than commonly believed. "Even in Germany," he said. "But many [individual] companies depend on Russia."
"The first echelon of countries that depend on Russian trade are Finland, the Baltics to some extent, and Cyprus." The Finns, said Kallas, have been the most vocal and friendly toward Russia.
Kallas was also asked whether he thought the Estonian media been too one-sided in covering the Ukraine-Russia topic. "It isn't one-sided. I was just comparing the coverage of the Ukraine topic on BBC and in Estonia and it seemed I got more information from the Estonian media. [The Estonian media] also finds news from Russian sources that I don't. I think the picture we get is quite adequate and professional. But I'd recommend looking at what the French are writing as they have a different angle."