Russia is introducing harsh economic sanctions against neighboring Ukraine. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree last week with special measures against 322 Ukrainian citizens and 68 companies.
The Russian list features names of businessmen, politicians, judges and administrators. Among them are remarkably many ‘exes’, as ex-prime minister Arseni Yatsenyuk, former leader of the extreme nationalist Ukrainian party Right Sector, Dmytro Jarosh, and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Especially the latter is piquant. As prime minister she signed a gas deal with the Russian president Putin in 2009, with Ukraine being bad, but she personally deserved a lot. Tymoshenko has in the meantime made himself eligible for the presidency, on which Ukraine will vote next year. If she wins, Moscow will, as a recognized head of state, have to bother her on all fronts.
Other victims of the measures are the Ukrainian Minister Arsen Avakov of the home affairs and son Aleksej of President Petro Poroshenko. But also the chairman of the Ukrainian security council Aleksandr Turchinov, the head of the Ukrainian state gas company Andrej Kobolev and Mustafa Najem, one of the main initiators of the Maidan uprising in 2014 against the ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych.
Striking absent is Poroshenko himself. According to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov, that would be a ‘scandalous step’. “Traditionally, presidents are not included on sanctions lists,” Peskov said. Incidentally, in the past the Ukrainian leader got a lot of criticism from his fellow countrymen, because his chocolate empire Roshen had some of his products made in Russia.
The companies include Dneproazot and Oekrchimenergo, two of the largest chemical companies in Ukraine, trade organization Fozzy Group and the banks Credit Dnepr and AvtoKrAZ. It is striking that the Swiss company Ferrexpo has also been hit by the Russians. It has shares in a processing plant in the Ukrainian region of Poltava. Two British companies are also on the sanction list. The bank accounts of the companies and individuals, securities and holdings in Russia are immediately frozen. Also, Russian citizens and companies are not allowed to provide capital to Ukraine.
Ukraine has listed about 1,700 persons and 700 legal entities on its list, most of whom are from Russia. The most far-reaching measure taken by Kiev was the cessation of air traffic between the two countries in October 2015. It is still possible to cross the border.
Ukraine responds relaxed to the Moscow decision. Journalist Vitali Portnikov, himself on the list, told Radio Svoboda that the measures will hardly affect him.
Sanctions are mainly propaganda because I do not have bills, possessions or shares in Russia.
The two states were actually at war with each other, after Russia took the Crimea from Ukraine in the spring of 2014 and actively supported a pro-Russian uprising against the new regime in Kiev. This happened after the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich had fled in late February 2014.
Kiev has already called a ban almost two years ago on most foodstuffs from Russia.
Maurice Esma, a co-founder of EconomicInform is a freelance journalist with the expertise in international finance and corporate rights. The author can be reached by email [email protected]