March 31, 2023

Sanctions Against Russia: A Never-Ending Game

On 30 March, the ICDS hosted a roundtable with Tom Keatinge, the director of the Center for Financial Crime & Security Studies (CFCS) at RUSI, that was chaired by head of studies Tomas Jermalavičius. Together the ICDS research fellows, present at the roundtable were a diverse cohort of experts and journalists who sparked a lively discussion.

Mr Keatinge presented “Recommendations for Effective Sanctions Against Russia” prepared by the European Sanctions and Illicit Finance Monitoring and Analysis Network (SIFMANet). Introducing the network’s findings, he drew the audience’s attention to the key takeaway: Russia’s system is highly adaptive and resilient to sanctions.

The ability to ensure compliance with the sanctions regime – as an emerging financial threat – is now being discussed at all international fora and on all levels, with even countries fully committed to it having to acknowledge the shortcomings.

It has transpired that the EU was not ready for the sanctions – of the degree and scope – that have been put in place since February 2022 in response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. With twenty-seven member states, there are twenty-seven legislative frameworks to harmonise and neutralise all the loopholes. It is easier said than done and presents a shared vulnerability of which Russia knows and takes advantage.

Another challenge identified by the CFCS is a lack of human resources both in the government sector and the non-financial private sector to navigate the sanctions regime and ensure compliance. Governments need to demonstrate the effectiveness of sanctions while also being realistic as to what sanctions can and cannot do to change Russia’s behaviour.

It was highlighted that the hard work does not stop at introducing sanctions. On the contrary, it is only a starting point. Once a new sanctions package has been agreed upon and delivered, sanctions maintenance and enforcement become the priority. The roundtable concluded with everyone agreeing that Russia will not give up any time soon – and neither should we.

Filed under: Events