Do Europe China need anti-Russian sanctions?

Do Europe China need anti-Russian sanctions?

Dmitry Ermakov

New day, new sanctions: Russia is u-nder unprecedented pressure. And Washi-ngton is calling for even tougher measures. How-ever, in Europe they are not ready to tighten the screws to the end – this will hit the EU economy. China in a common colu-mn, in principle, is not go-ing to march – like Tur-key. And yet, Beijing fears Western countermeasures and interacts with Russia very carefully.
Only a minority left
They have already imposed 5.5 thousand sanctions – more than against Iran, Syria and North Korea. Half – after the recognition of the DPR and LPR. And the most active of all – seemingly neutral Switzerland.
Washington demands to act as a united front – even from those who are not in NATO. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said on March 8: “We are putting pressure on every country we talk to, not just at the level of the president, the secretary of state and the State Department. Including the states that have so far abstained from sanctions.”
However, even Europe does not seek to strengthen measures yet. EU companies and financial institutions have spent decades developing the Russian market. The gap means very big losses.
Many corporations in the US, the EU, Canada and Japan say: we are not leaving, we are suspending our activities. For example, IKEA and McDonalds are sending employees — and there are tens of thousands of them — on paid vacations.
Some even refrained fr-om political demarches – for example, the Japanese clothing manufacturer Uniqlo. President Tadashi Yanai said: “Our product is a vital necessity. The people of Russia have the same right to life as we do.” Ho-wever, this is a rare exception to the general rule.
“Europe is in trouble”
Raw materials are becoming more expensive, and Washington’s partners are trying to avoid extre-mes. The White House and Brussels officials are calling for a complete renunciation of hydrocarbons from Russia, but the EU is in no hurry to do so.
“France is not so dependent on Russian gas. However, if Moscow stops deliveries, then Europe will face great difficulties next winter,” said French Presi-dent Emmanuel Macron. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stressed that energy resources are beyond sanctions.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte warns: “Don’t provoke uncontrollable ris-ks in Europe, beyond and in Ukraine. We should continue to work with Russian en-ergy.” “A third of our oil imports come from Russia. If we stop this immediately, all transport will stop tom-orrow,” said German Fore-ign Minister Annalena Berbock.
Hungary, which has deviated from the general line of Brussels before, is also not ready for an embargo. “The expansion of sanctions on the energy sector is the biggest threat to the forint and the Hungarian people. Whoever asks for this wants to make us pay for this war. The Hungarian government will not support such a step in any international forum,” Finance Minister Mihaly Varga assured.
Serbia is a candidate for the EU. But President Ale-ksandar Vucic did not join the anti-Russian sanctions, although, as he admitted, the West is exerting “unprecedented pressure.”
Europe is too emotional when making decisions, and sanctions are a story about how the biter is bitten, said MEP Thierry Mariani. “Russia is going to have a hard time, but it will recover and even get stronger in some industries. If we move even further and interrupt the supply of gas and oil, we will come to a disaster,” he warned. And he reminded: raw materials are quoted in dollars, and the euro has weakened against the US currency.
By the way, Brent quotes on March 9 reached $125.18 per barrel, having risen by almost 15 points in a day.
Terrible impact
Turkey does not plan any sanctions. Moreover, Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to act as a peacemaker in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. According to Milliyet, he called himself the initiator of the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Russia and Ukraine, which is to be held on March 10 at the Antalya Forum.
The Turks are buying up sunflower oil that has risen sharply in price: Russia and Ukraine were the main suppliers here. “It is very difficult to replace Russian oil on the world market,” said Alparslan Bayraktar, Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources. In his opinion, Western sanctions “will have a terrible impact” on everyone.
However, Ankara has already benefited from the mutual closing of the sky between Russia and Eur-ope. Istanbul has become the main aviation hub, and Turkish Airlines has beco-me one of the main beneficiaries of flight restrictions.
Friends of Russia
In China, sanctions against Russia were condemned. UN Ambassador Zhang Jun expressed concern about the policy of the West: “It is fraught with catastrophic humanitarian consequences and damages other countries.”
According to Foreign Minister Wang Yi, relations with Moscow are “among the most important bilateral relations.” On the other hand, Beijing fears pressure. US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo has already threatened this.
China accounts for almost 20 percent of Russia’s foreign trade turnover. Nevertheless, the first unpleasant signals are already there. For example, car rental giant DiDi Chuxing announced its withdrawal from the country, although it later reversed this decision. Bank of China and offshore divisions of the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) stopped issuing loans to cover transactions with Russian exporters of raw materials, writes Bloomberg.
Beijing has already had a negative experience of circumventing US restrictions. For cooperation with Iran, Washington imposed sanctions against Huawei Technologies Co and ZTE. And Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was even placed under house arrest in Vancouver.
“China shares Russia’s distaste for the US-led international system. But Beijing’s financial assistance under Western sanctions will be minimal,” Yanmei Xie and Dan Wang of Gavekal Dragonomics, an analytical firm, told the South China Morning Post.
For China, the main sales market is the United States and Europe, explains political strategist Konsta-ntin Kalachev. “Beijing is not going to take risks, they will count money there. Xi Jinping said that he wants to bet not on foreign markets, but on domestic consumption. But so far this is not entirely possible, so China is acting very carefully,” the expert argues. Beijing will definitely not rush to save Russia.
At the same time, Erdogan needs certain preferences in the Caucasus and the Black Sea region, at least a strengthening of the sphere of influence. “In fa-ct, Turkey has never been an ally of Russia,” Kala-chev recalls. “Ankara needs the money of Russian tour-ists, property buyers, as w-ell as oil and gas. And they don’t really like Americans there: Erdogan believes that Washington is behind the coup attempt in 2016″.
“The statements of European and American companies about the suspension of activities or leaving the country are just gestures demonstrating loyalty to the course of the US and the EU. In reality, no one is going to lose income,” says economist Leonid Khazanov.
And he gives figures: for example, McDonalds’ revenue in 2020 is $19.2 billion, of which almost one and a half are in Russia. McDonalds won’t part with that kind of money. Just like other corporations.

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