The United States (US), Canada, and the European Union (EU) have imposed new sanctions on more than a dozen Russian officials and entities accused of supporting Russia’s occupation of Crimea. On Friday the US Treasury Department announced fresh sanctions against six Russian officials, six defense firms, and two construction firms in connection with their material support for Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and their role in the seizure of Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait.
“The United States and our transatlantic partners will not allow Russia’s continued aggression against Ukraine to go unchecked,” said US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Foreign Minister, echoed Mnuchin’s words, stating that “Canada and its allies are unwavering in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Russia’s provocations in the Kerch Strait and its illegal invasion and ongoing occupation of Crimea will not go unchecked.”
In an effort to frustrate Russia’s hostile and destabilizing policies towards Ukraine, the bloc has sanctioned numerous people and entities. According to Al Jazeera, Canada responded to Russia’s military action in the Kerch Strait with sanctions against 114 people and 15 entities. The EU sanctioned eight more Russians over the standoff. The new wave of sanctions has left 170 persons and 44 entities blacklisted over the crisis in Ukraine.
According to RT, Canada’s list of sanctioned officials includes a number of high-ranking Russian officials and prominent business leaders, such as the National Guard Head Viktor Zolotov and Igor Sechin, CEO of Russian oil giant Rosneft. Canada has also imposed sanctions on major Russian aircraft organizations, such as iG, Sukhoi, and Tupolev.
Meanwhile the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned four officials involved in Russia’s November 2018 attack on Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait. According to The Hill, OFAC asserts that Gennadiy Medvedev, deputy director of Russia’s federal border guard, and Sergey Stankevich, the head of Russia’s federal border directorate, “directly controlled and organized the attack against the Ukrainian ships and their crew.”
OFAC has also penalized Andrey Shein, Stankevich’s deputy, Ruslan Romashkin, a top Russian military official in charge of Crimea, and a number of Russian entities, including the shipbuilding giant Zelenodolsk, the hydroacoustic equipment producer Okeanpribor, a diesel engine supplier to the Russian military, Zvezda, and an electronic parts supplier to the military, Fiolent. The sanctioned parties are banned from the US financial system and from accessing US-based assets.
Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has long continued unhindered. While recent sanctions appropriately hold key Russian officials and entities responsible for aggressive, destabilizing, and illegal actions in Ukraine, the world’s response to Russian belligerence remains inadequate. The US, Canada, and the EU must impose sanctions against the Russian state itself. Recent provocations in the Kerch Strait and an illegal occupation of Crimea are but part of a larger war strategy, which includes both covert and overt military aggression, economic pressure, cyber attacks, disinformation campaigns, and interference in electoral processes. Most notably, Russia interfered in the November elections in separatist-Ukraine.
Al Jazeera states that Washington has recognized the elections as a “sham” and has accordingly sanctioned two Ukrainian separatists involved in organizing the elections — Aleksey Naydenko and Vladimir Vysotsky. However, targeting just two individuals diverts attention from the true culprit: Vladimir Putin. Over the past five years, Putin has constructed the veneer of a local separatist rebellion to mask the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine. Having accepted this facade, Western nations continue to impose sanctions against both individuals and corporate entities, believing their actions a suitable response against continued Russian hostility. But recent sanctions will do little to curb Putin’s interstate war, in which the occupation and annexation of Crimea and destabilizing actions in eastern Ukraine are inextricably intertwined. In their present form, sanctions have proved inadequate in thwarting the Kremlin’s aggression in Ukraine. And so long as the US, Canada, and EU fail to holistically address Russia’s interstate, multi-vectored war against Ukraine, Ukraine will continue to suffer, and Russian power will continue to grow.