Sanctions on Russia Should Target Energy Exports, Economist Says (3)

Viktor Trasberg, Senior Lecturer in Economic Theory at the University of Tartu (Postimees/Scanpix)
4/3/2014 5:05 PM
Category: Politics

Viktor Trasberg, senior lecturer in economic theory at the University of Tartu, suggests tightening the sanctions imposed on Russia and hitting the most essential sector of the country's income – export of gas, oil and raw materials.

In a comment on the Vikerraadio radio station today, Trasberg said that annexing and merging the territory of an independent country requires a response from Europe to avoid a repetition of the scenario. Since military action is apparently ruled out, economic measures need to be considered.

Trasberg decried the weak response seen so far in the European Union and the US and referring to the announcements that Russian gas supplies will not be suspended, that the UK will not impose sanctions on Russian oligarchs living in London and France's reluctance to cancel the sale of a warship to Russia, Trasberg said that it seems the West is not willing to sacrifice "even an ounce" of its welfare in the name of democratic values.

Regarding effective measures, Trasberg lists expanding sanctions and travel bans on the Russian business elite and society and limiting the influx of Western technology into Russia to curb its competitiveness and the development of its military industry.

Sanctions could only be effective if they are directed against the vital areas – oil, gas, and raw materials, which make up 70 percent of Russia's export, he said. Talk about freezing bank accounts in the West seems ridiculous, as Vladimir Putin has long ago made sure that the major players in Russian politics had no assets or interests abroad that could be used for exerting pressure, Trasberg said.

Listing the prominent position of Russia in Estonia's export destinations and top foreign investors, Trasberg asked about potential sanctions Estonia could not agree to. He said the government needs to come up with plans and explanations in case there is a significant drop in Russian transit and tourists.


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