This summer in August 2, 2017 the President of the US Donald Trump has approved a new package of sanctions on Russia.
As Russia’s prime minister Dmitry Medvedev commented the newly imposed sanctions of summer 2017, the sanctions were tantamount to a “full-scale trade war”. Basically, the signed sanctions bill limits the own US President authority to reverse or relax them without approval from Congress. A background to these news, that in fact the American President could not deny signing this bill, as It was passed in the Senate by 98 votes to 2 and in the House of Representatives by 419 to 3, and the president’s veto could easily be rejected by Congress, does not compensate this chagrin feeling. So the hope that our relations with the new American administration would improve has faded again.
I will tell you honestly, and this is not just my own notice, that during the US presidential election campaign in 2016 so many Russians enthusiastically watched the campaign and the elections. So that even interest to our own elections to Gosduma, the lower house of Russian Parliament, faded in the light of American elections. What is the reason of such a high interest, you may ask? No, it was not a hope for cancellation or at least release of sanctions. It was just a nationwide hope for long-awaited thaw in relations between two great countries. These constant struggle and information mud flow just became so much tiring… So sanctions had nothing to do with it.
According to the opinion poll that was held from 2nd to 3rd of March 2017 by VTsIOM (Russian Public Opinion Research Center), the impact of sanctions on each person is pretty low, not the way that is was expected and especially not the way that it is represented in the western mass media: only 17% of Russians (whereas 45% in 2015) note certain consequences of the sanctions for themselves and their loved ones, and as a reason to it, their complaints are mostly related to rising prices and worsening financial situation (66%). More than three quarters of respondents (79%) do not feel the consequences of the sanctions (whereas in August 2014 it was 92%).
According to the VTsIOM poll of March 2017, more than half of the Russian citizens (59%, which is the maximum for all the years of measurements) express readiness to live in economic crisis and to tolerate certain difficulties in the current economic situation for the sake of continuing Russia’s foreign policy in Ukraine. The different opinion, dissatisfaction with the situation around sanctions, is held by 34% of Russians (among the supporters of the Liberal Democratic Party – 46%, among people who estimate their financial situation as bad or very bad – 48%).
According to the results of the most recent VTsIOM survey (held on the July 30-31, 2017), the citizens of Russia are accustomed to sanctions and took the new US sanctions calmly. The assessment of opinions concerning the US sanctions on Russia remained relatively unchanged from the results of March’s survey. The most recent polls show that 35 percent of respondents think the sanctions positively influence Russia, 26 percent feel the opposite, and 29 percent believe the sanctions have not particularly affected Russian society.
The overall impact of sanctions has been to isolate Russia from the global economy and hold back economic modernization, as it is literally, openly and directly said by the European Parliament Briefing brochure March 2016.
Summarizing the abovementioned, the sanctions policy of the West has not achieved the awaited results: Sanctions have not influenced Russian public opinion. The Russians have adapted to the current situation and do not demand that the authorities will seek the lifting of sanctions.
Russian sanctions have initiated a full information war about it to break out. The most interesting thing about it is that the reports and conclusions on the impact of the Russian sanctions are often given in a quite affirmative way by the countries or reporters who have a quite distant view, no connection to Russia and no point of view from inside or firsthand from Russia.
As for example, the European Parliament Briefing brochure March 2016 says: “Sanctions have affected the Russian economy in various ways. The main short-term impact comes from restrictions on Western lending and investment in Russia. Oil and gas production remains unaffected for the time being, but in the long term energy exports are likely to suffer. Meanwhile, Russian counter-sanctions are benefiting the agricultural sector, but consumers are losing out in terms of choice and price. So far, the overall impact of sanctions has been to isolate Russia from the global economy and hold back economic modernization”.
The most contentious issue is the reason for sanctions imposing that is represented in mass media. As through a carbon paper, or better using Ctrl+C à CTRL+V, such western reviews are never missing the opportunity to strengthen in the reader’s mind, just like in a school textbook, or in a mantra, even in one sentence, that such measures were a reaction to annexing Crimea, and/or fomenting separatist uprisings in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbass.
But this is all sometimes o far away from the reality.
To have a view from inside or firsthand from Russia, to find out exactly who is sanctioned, what is prohibited to do with or in Russia and what real impact does the sanctions bring, read the continuation of the topic and follow our updates.
Bye and take care.
Anna S. Menshova
Lawyer and Legal adviser
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Tel. +7 967 590-73-79