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Russia Sanctions Update series

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

Paul Backer, an American attorney based in Moscow, recently has offered the following original contributions to the JRL on the subject of sanctions and the response by business and legal counsel. Backer, pbacker@skalalaw.com, is with Skalaw Law, online at skalalaw.com. Part I: Russia sanctions: implementing client sanctions policies – Sept. 26, 2014 Part II: Russian companies’ failures

RIA Novosti: Ukraine Demands Gas Transit Contract With Europe, Refuses to Guarantee Safe Transit

Gas Flame file photo

KIEV, October 16 (RIA Novosti) – Ukraine will not guarantee uninterrupted transit of Russian gas to Europe via its territory unless it signs a gas transit contract with EU partners, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Thursday. “Ukraine declares that we are a state that guarantees uninterrupted transit of natural gas, but in order to guarantee

Interfax: Russia remains open to free trade zone with EU, Lavrov says

Sergei Lavrov file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, October 14, 2014) There is no alternative to improving relations between Russia and the EU and Russia is ready to discuss the creation of a free trade zone with the EU, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said. “I believe that no clear-headed person in Europe will argue with the fact that

Poroshenko Seeks Merkel’s Support as Russia Bristles

Maidan Square file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Tony Czuczka, Kateryna Choursina- October 16, 2014) German Chancellor Angela Merkel blamed the Kremlin for continuing to stoke the Ukraine conflict as Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that he won’t be blackmailed over the crisis. “Russia must make the decisive contribution to de-escalation,” Merkel told parliament in Berlin today. “The situation

Most Russians Think Western Sanctions Will Boost Nation’s Economy

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – October 16, 2014) Despite an economic slump and rising inflation, the majority of Russians believe that Western sanctions and Russia’s retaliatory ban on food imports will actually help the economy, a poll published Thursday showed. Only 25 percent of respondents expect sanctions to damage the Russian economy,

Moscow Times: Ex-Soviet President Gorbachev Says ‘Disunity’ With Russia Weakens Europe

File Photo of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at Table Signing Documents

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 16, 2014) Former Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev has called on Russia and the West to put an end to their war of words and retaliatory sanctions over Ukraine and discuss a practical solution to the crisis. “How can you conduct a dialogue if you ‘punish’ the people in power

Russia Can’t Be Blackmailed Over Ukraine, Putin Says

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – October 15, 2014) It’s futile for the U.S. and its allies to “blackmail” Russia over the Ukraine crisis, President Vladimir Putin said in a newspaper interview. Russia’s partners should remember the risks involved in disputes between nuclear powers, Putin said. He accused Barack Obama of adopting a “hostile” approach in naming

Interfax: Russia will protect itself from Western sanctions by long-term measures, says Lavrov

Sergei Lavrov file photo

(Interfax – October 14, 2014) Russia will use long-term measures to protect itself from Western sanctions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said. “We will certainly adopt all the measures needed to protect ourselves from unlawful restrictions. You are aware of the resources that are being allocated for these purposes. Beyond any doubt, it will

Interfax: EU will review Russia sanctions in late October – head of EU Delegation

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MOSCOW. Oct 14 (Interfax) – The European Union plans to review its sanctions against Russia at the end of October, the Head of the EU Delegation to Russia, Ambassador Vygaudas Usackas, said when answering a question from Interfax on the sidelines of the European Business Association forum in Moscow on Tuesday. The results of such

Russia Plans Giant State Oil Services Company to Replace Western Firms

Oil Worker file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Panin- October 14, 2014) President Vladimir Putin has approved the creation of a state-owned oil exploration drilling corporation that will replace Western oil service companies forced to reduce operations in Russia by sanctions on Moscow over Ukraine, a news report said Monday. In a time of “sharply escalating international

RIA Novosti: Lavrov: Moscow Opposes Following ‘Primitive Scenario’ of Confrontation With West

Sergei Lavrov file photo

MOSCOW, October 13 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow opposes confrontation with the West as a joint international effort is required to counter threats to global stability, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday. “Despite the hostile behavior of the Western partners, we still oppose sliding into the primitive scenario of a direct confrontation between Russia and

Russia’s Oil Field Actions to Take Edge Off U.S. Sanctions

Oil Well file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Stephen Bierman, Elena Mazneva – October 10, 2014) U.S. and European Union moves to pressure Russia by threatening its oil output overlook one detail: a mass of conventional resources across Siberia, according to Natural Resources Minister Sergei Donskoi. Russia will distribute more oil and gas deposits found in traditional areas during

Interfax: Putin hopes for adjustment of Ukraine’s association agreement with EU

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MINSK. Oct 10 (Interfax) – The delay in the enforcement of the economic bloc of Ukraine’s association agreement with the EU makes it possible to adjust the provisions of the document whose implementation could considerably harm the economy of the Customs Union, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “Kyiv and Brussels heeded our arguments and decided

RIA Novosti: “Less Than Half of Europeans Favor EU Involvement in Ukraine Crisis Settlement: Poll”

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MOSCOW, October 8 (RIA Novosti) – Less than half of the population of the United Kingdom, France and Germany think that the European Union should participate in the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis while supporting humanitarian aid deliveries and a peacekeeping mission, with some also suggesting the provision of financial aid for the Kiev government,

RIA Novosti: Lavrov on Western Sanctions: Lifting Them Is Up to Those Who Imposed Them

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

MOSCOW, October 8 (RIA Novosti) – Speaking about the possible removal of sanctions against Russia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday that the matter was for Western states to decide. “Sanctions is the business of our western colleagues, the business of the countries that decided to use this illegal instrument for some reason, possibly

Business New Europe: Ukraine fails to gain from EU free trade over six months

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(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 8, 2014) A report by Ukraine’s Alfa Bank argues that Ukraine has failed to gain from unilateral free trade with the European Union over the first six months. Exports have indeed grown but this has little to do with the free trade zone, says the report. In April

Interfax: Poroshenko Administration: Ukraine to apply for EU membership in 2020

File photo of Barack Obama and Petro Poroshenko facing one another, with Obama gesturing

KYIV. Oct 8 (Interfax) – The Reform Strategy 2020 put forward by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko envisages Ukraine’s application for European Union membership in 2020, first deputy head of the Ukrainian Presidential Administration Hennadiy Zubko said. Zubko made the statement at a meeting with Zhytomyr region officials as he was presenting the reform program, the

Russian companies’ failures to adopt effective sanctions policies worsen sanctions’ impact

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

Subject: Sanctions, Part 2. Date: Tue, 7 Oct 2014 From: Paul Backer <pauljbacker@gmail.com> Part 2. Russian companies’ failures to adopt effective sanctions policies worsen sanctions’ impact. Russian companies failed to address key aspects of sanctions: 1. Large law firm incentives are against giving operationally useful sanctions advice and 2. Nature and enforcement of sanctions differ

EU mulls tougher sanctions on Russia as Donbass rebels advance

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 3, 2014) The EU is considering expanding sanctions against Russia if rebels in Eastern Ukraine move to capture Donetsk airport or the port city of Mariupol. Bloomberg cited a source close to the German government on October 2 discussing the option of expanding sanctions against Russia if Donetsk

RIA Novosti: Biden Says US Forced EU Countries to Impose Sanctions Against Russia

File Photo of Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin in front of U.S. Flag and Russian Flag

MOSCOW, October 3 (RIA Novosti) – The United States and US President Barack Obama personally forced the European Union members to introduce sanctions against Russian over its stance on the Ukrainian crisis, US Vice President Joe Biden announced. Washington rallied “the world’s most developed countries to impose real cost on Russia” and introduce restrictive measures

RIA Novosti: Why EU Sanctions Are Illegal and Why That Won’t Change Anything

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(RIA Novosti –  Alexander Mercouris, London-based lawyer –  LONDON, October 2, 2014) The EU repeatedly boasts of its commitment to the rule of law. In reality, the legal basis of the sanctions it has imposed on Russia is extremely dubious. However, past experience shows that even when the EU’s own courts declare sanctions illegal, the

Interfax: Expansion of Russian cooperation in China not end of relations with Europe – Putin

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MOSCOW. Oct 2 (Interfax) – Russia has no intention of ending its relations with its traditional partners, including Europe, and expansion of cooperation with China is a global trend, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “Russia is also thinking about expansion of cooperation with China, and it didn’t begin thinking about it yesterday or due to

Putin Doesn’t Make Decisions Under Pressure, Sechin Says

Igor Sechin file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Arkhipov, Ryan Chilcote – September 30, 2014) President Vladimir Putin won’t be swayed by sanctions over Ukraine because he doesn’t allow such pressures to affect his decisions, said Igor Sechin, head of OAO Rosneft (ROSN), Russia’s biggest oil company. “He will never let himself be pressured into making a decision,”

Interfax: Envoy Chizhov: European Commission starts to weigh Russian concerns over EU-Ukraine free trade

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BRUSSELS. Sept 30 (Interfax) – Russia is awaiting the European Commission’s proposal to lift its concerns about the enforcement of the EU-Ukraine Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA), Russian Permanent Representative to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov told reporters. “The decision of the European Council was anticipated and quite consistent with the agreement reached

Russia needs reforms, not a sanctions war

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Vladimir Mau, special to RBTH – September 24, 2014) Vladimir Mau is the rector of the Russian Presidential Academy of the National Economy and Public Administration. Mutual sanctions are always extremely unpleasant, and the application of sanctions and the “hot” trade war between Russia, Europe and the United

Moscow Times: Ukraine Crisis Halves Number of U.S. and EU Tourists Visiting Russia

File Photo of Airplane Approaching Runway About to Land

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – September 10, 2014) Russian travel agencies say 40 to 60 percent fewer European and U.S. holiday makers came to Russia in the first half of this year than in the same period of 2013, while three times fewer Russian tourists went abroad, a trend they attribute to bad blood between

Interfax: Sanctions against Russia already affecting production of tight reserves, could impact shelf

Oil Worker file photo

KHANTY-MANSIISK. Sept 10 (Interfax) – The sanctions imposed by the EU and U.S. against Russia are already affecting the production of tight reserves, Russian Natural Resources Minister Sergei Donskoi said at a briefing in Khanty-Mansiisk. “The sanctions, first due to technology, have not yet impacted [the country's economy], but are already affecting the production of

Business New Europe: Russia demands sweeping changes to Ukraine’s association agreement with EU

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(Business New Europe – bne.eu – September 10, 2014) Moscow wants amendments to five vectors of Ukraine’s association agreement with the European Union, according to liberal Ukrainian paper Zerkalo Nedeli. The amendment would see as much as 20% of goods excluded from free trade between EU and Ukraine. This would require renegotiation of the agreement

Interfax: State obligation is to defend business from illegitimate actions of foreign countries, companies – Medvedev

File Photo of Dmitry Medvedev Before Gold Flag with Elaborate Design

GORKI. Sept 9 (Interfax) – The state will continue to provide support to Russian business amid the Western sanctions, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said during a meeting with NOVATEK (MOEX: NVTK) CEO Leonid Mikhelson. “You can have no doubt that in the face of such unfair actions the state has always supported and will

Consumers Stay Away From Moscow’s Malls as Sanctions Deepen Russia’s Slump

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – September 9, 2014) Nearly 25 percent fewer people visited Moscow’s malls in the week leading up the start of the school year than in the same period of 2013, a survey said, indicating that Western sanctions and an economic slowdown are hitting Russian consumer demand. A report by consumer market

Interfax: Russia dramatically reduces imports of sanctioned products from non-CIS in August

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

MOSCOW. Sept 9 (Interfax) – Russia dramatically reduced imports of products that are under the food embargo in August compared with July. The food embargo was imposed on August 7, 2014. According to the Federal Customs Service (FCS), vegetable, dairy, poultry and pork supplies declined the most dramatically. So, in August the cost of imports

Moscow Times: New EU Sanctions to Inflict Long-Term Pain

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – September 5, 2014) The Russian business world is braced for the European Union’s unfurling of a fresh round of economic sanctions on Friday, with analysts predicting that Russia’s $2 trillion economy will be squeezed even tighter while its companies face isolation from international markets. A peace plan

Poll: Most Russians Would Sacrifice Booze and Cigarettes to Hurt West

Cigarette Being Lit

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – September 4, 2014) More than 70 percent of Russians would ban imports of booze and cigarettes from Western countries in retaliation for sanctions, but few would give up foreign cars or pay an additional tax on vacations abroad, a recent poll indicated. Other popular measures included blacklisting foreign hotels (supported

Business New Europe/RIA Novosti: European Commission to level new sanctions on Friday

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(Business New Europe – bne.eu/RIA Novosti – September 3, 2014) The European Commission suggests limiting Russian state-owned companies’ access to European capital markets, as it prepares to possibly impose new tougher sanctions on Russia at a meeting on Friday, September 5. According to agency statements, the new economic sanctions against Russia, proposed by the European

Moscow Times: Russia Wants Say in EU-Ukraine Association Deal

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – August 29, 2014) Russia wants to propose amendments to the association agreement between Ukraine and the European Union, top officials said, despite Ukraine and the EU maintaining that the bilateral agreement is moments away from ratification and not open to suggestions. Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev and

RIA Novosti: Russian Invasion Claims Sparked by Minsk Talks, Kiev’s Military Failure – Russian Diplomat

Map of Western CIS/FSU and European Environs

BRUSSELS, August 28 (RIA Novosti) – Thursday’s claims of a Russian military invasion of Ukraine were sparked by Kiev’s attempts to justify its military setbacks in the east and downplay the results of recent talks in Minsk, Russia’s EU envoy said. “I think that this is related to the launch of the Minsk process, which,

RIA Novosti: NATO, EU Should Give Up Plans of Incorporating Ukraine – Dr. John Mearsheimer

NATO Meeting file photo

MOSCOW, August 26 (RIA Novosti) – The West ought to fundamentally change its approach towards the Ukrainian crisis, making Ukraine a ‘neutral buffer’ between Russia and NATO instead of westernizing it, asserts John J. Mearsheimer, American professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. “The United States and its European allies now face a

Interfax: Russia could lose over 100 billion rubles from EU-Ukraine association – Putin

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MINSK. Aug 26 (Interfax) – The association agreement signed between the European Union (EU) and Ukraine could cost Russia billions and force it to introduce protective measures, said Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Due to Ukraine adopting zero duties on EU imports (which is to take effect almost immediately after the ratification of the agreement and

As Russia and U.S. Struggle, China Rejoices

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Panin – August 25, 2014) With multi-billion dollar energy deals between Moscow and Beijing recently being pushed through, China, the world’s second-biggest economy, is benefiting the most from the spiraling tension between Russia and the West over the violence in Ukraine. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban earlier this month

Ukrainian sanctions on Gazprom could threaten European economy

Russian Gas Facility file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Kira Egorova, Anna Kuchma, RBTH – August 19, 2014) On August 14, the Ukrainian parliament passed a law enabling Kiev to introduce sanctions against Russian companies, meaning that if measures are introduced against Gazprom, the transit of Russian gas through Ukrainian territory will be blocked. What threats does

Russian consumers hardest hit by sanctions

File Photo of U.S. Dairy Cows

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Kira Tverskaya, special to RBTH – August 19, 2014) Economists point out that the Russian government’s recent food ban is likely to backfire as restaurants and consumers look for new sources for favorite products Moscow’s home cooks and restaurateurs alike have spent the past two weeks scrambling to

Moscow’s Food War With West Could Hurt Russia Most

File Photo of U.S. Dairy Cows

(RFE/RL Explainer – rferl.org – Charles Recknagel – August 21, 2014) Moscow’s sweeping ban on food imports is meant as a slap in the face to Western powers for imposing sanctions on Moscow over Ukraine. But the ban is also causing food prices to rise in Russia, which is a major importer of food and has few immediate supply alternatives. Here

Moscow Times: Putin’s Food Ban Splits EU on Wisdom of Russia Sanctions

File Photo of U.S. Dairy Cows

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Panin – August 18, 2014) The European Union’s united front on Russia sanctions seems to be buckling, as Eastern European countries hit hardest by Moscow’s retaliatory food import bans begin to question the wisdom of wrecking their economies in the name of a strategy that has seen the crisis

Russian Farmers Will Need Years to Fill Gaps Left by Food Ban

File Photo of U.S. Dairy Cows

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – August 15, 2014) Russian politicians have declared the recent bans on Western imports a golden opportunity for Russian agriculture – but farmers and economists warn that upping production is a question of years, not months, and closing the market will not be enough to solve its problems.

Interfax: EU ready to cancel Russia sanctions if situation in east Ukraine stabilizes – Usackas

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MOSCOW. Aug 15 (Interfax) – The European Union would not want to continue the sanctions policy regarding Russia and is not ruling out the possibility of canceling the existing measures if the situation in eastern Ukraine stabilizes. “When clear results in terms of stabilizing the situation in eastern Ukraine appear, of course, the EU will

Interfax: VTsIOM: Western sanctions unnoticed by over 90 percent of Russians

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(Interfax – August 15, 2014) Most Russians are aware of sanctions imposed on their country but the sanctions seem to have gone unnoticed by an overwhelming majority, sociologists told Interfax. Some 92 percent of the respondents said the Western sanctions had not harmed them, 4 percent spoke about a price rise and the others mentioned

Interfax: Russia may theoretically withdraw from ECHR jurisdiction – Putin

European Court of Human Rights Building file photo

YALTA. Aug 14 (Interfax) – Russia may theoretically withdraw from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) jurisdiction, but the matter is not under consideration now, President Vladimir Putin says. While Putin was meeting with members of State Duma factions in Yalta on Thursday, he was asked whether Russia may withdraw from the ECHR jurisdiction.

Business New Europe: Sanctions “unbearable” for EU, will be cancelled in 3 months

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Danske Bank – August 13, 2014) We analyse the economic and financial impact of the Ukrainian crisis with a special focus on our footprint Nordic markets. We view the situation in Ukraine as far from de-escalating as fighting continues in Donetsk and Lugansk, which we expect to weigh on

Fewer Russians Worry About Inflation Despite Predictions of Higher Food Prices

File Photo of U.S. Dairy Cows

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 13, 2014) Fewer Russians are concerned about inflation than they were a month ago, a new poll published Tuesday showed, even as analysts warned recession was inevitable and that a ban on many foreign food items would push up prices for consumers. The state-run Russian Public Opinion Research Center

RIA Novosti: Russia not planning to close air transit route across Siberia – minister

File Photo of Airplane Approaching Runway About to Land

(RIA Novosti – August 11, 2014) Russia is not planning at present to stop western airlines from flying across Siberia, Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov has said. “Do not worry, there is no decision being taken on this just yet,” he replied when asked by journalists, RIA Novosti news agency reported on 11 August. The newspaper

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