New sanctions on Russia will soon arrive. The political message, clear, was launched both by the President of the EU Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, “we are ready to impose further economic costs on Russia”, and by the EU High Representative Josep Borrell, “we will study and adopt new measures restrictive, both personal and sectoral “. A reaction considered necessary after the escalation wanted by Vladimir Putin with the mobilization and the announcement of the referendums for the annexation of the occupied areas in Ukraine. The question at this point is where and how can the Moscow economy be hit again? For now, there is no official indication, if not a generic but significant one: the main suspects are the technological areas, not yet affected by the sanctions already in place except for the most advanced production. These are the areas which, together with food supplies and fertilizers, have so far remained unscathed and which also have a significant impact on the level of war production. It is true that the Russian army is not particularly advanced from a technological point of view, but targeted sanctions in the sector can further weaken it. The latest package of sanctions introduced by the United States goes in the same direction, targeting oligarchs, elites linked to the Kremlin and Russian entities operating in the defense, high technology and electronics sectors. Not only. The channel opened with China has also progressively reduced flows to Russia. Many Chinese companies, worried about the reputation of their brands, have independently decided to stop selling to Russia.An analysis by the Financial Times has shown that the sanctions already in place have compromised a large part of the supplies to Russia of semiconductors, electronic equipment and hardware necessary for IT and network infrastructures. Striking even directly the groups operating in the sector would mean coming close to almost completely compromising the Russian capacity in the sector. Up to now we have acted above all on the commercial and financial level, with the aim of isolating the productive fabric as much as possible and putting pressure on the exchanges, the circulation of money and the transactions essential to finance the State and the oligarchs. Precisely to favor the erosion of the great wealth accumulated, and to strike particular interests, personal sanctions have been activated alongside the more general ones. Borrell explained where we are on the way to a new sanctions package. “Today we have not decided which people and which sectors are, you have to understand our working method. It is clear that, a few hours after Vladimir Putin’s speech, the point was to send a strong political message”. However, a strong political message must also have an effective translation on an operational level. The debate around the effectiveness of sanctions has so far been influenced by several factors. Above all, the lack of reliable data, because the official Russian ones are obviously influenced by propaganda. But the sum of official data, studies published by authoritative sources, and the progressive tightening of Russian reactions indicate with sufficient clarity how sanctions are working and the difficulties of the Russian economy are growing. A new step in the coming weeks could raise the pressure even more. (by Fabio Insenga)
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