Photo Credit and Description: Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks and replies to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Federal Foreign Minister of Germany Annalena Baerbock, Moscow, January 18, 2022.

Germany Says It Doesn’t Know Whether “Unprecedented” Russia Sanctions Are Working

The German federal government does not know whether its sanctions against Russia are really effective in weakening Russia. This emerges from the answer to a request from the Die Linke MP, Sevim Dagdelen.

Dagdelen asked: “Does the German government have any information that the sanctions imposed by the EU have an impact on specific decisions by the Russian government regarding the warfare in Ukraine? If so, please explain.”

The federal government replied: “The Federal Government has no knowledge in the sense of the question.”

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Germany has imposed one of the most drastic sanctions package on Russia, including, among others, sanctions on energy imports and the suspension of the Nordstream 2 pipeline, which has led to an energy crisis in the country, with energy prices having increased more than tenfold.

Germany has imposed sanctions on Russia in the expectation that they will harm Russia.

As a benchmark for a possible monitoring of success, the federal government states that it is “cutting the Russian state’s financing options” and thereby “moving Russia to end its war of aggression or at least making it considerably more difficult to continue”. So the government concludes: “The federal government expects that the effect of the sanctions will continue to increase.”

Sevim Dagdelen, chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, told the Berliner Zeitung that the sanctions have caused an economic slump in Germany and are “downright self-destructive.”

“It is irresponsible that the federal government wants to continue the economic war against Russia on a permanent basis. With cynical calculation, the traffic light provokes an economic slump in Germany in the cheap hope of causing more damage to the Russian economy,” Dagdelen said.

It is “downright self-destructive to accept a further shortage and increase in the price of energy in Germany with the planned price cap for Russian oil, just in the vague notion of making Russia’s oil exports to India unprofitable or even refusing it,” the Die Linke politician added.

Where’s the Evidence?

Citing a “variety of macroeconomic and sectoral indicators” according to which a recession has occurred and Russia has to accept a “long-term decline in production potential”, the German federal government concluded in its response to Dagdelen’s request that “The available data shows that the sanctions are having the intended effect.”

But concrete figures are not provided that would clarify the actual impact that the sanctions are having on Russia. The German government remains vague in its answer to the question, such as that “the sanctions will also reduce the effectiveness of the Russian armaments industry” or that “Russia’s military capabilities will be permanently weakened”.

The answers also lack the necessary context. The federal government writes that the “visible increase in inflation after the outbreak of war suggests that the sanctions are having a corresponding effect”.

When asked to provide historical examples on whether sanctions have been effective in motivating the attacking country to end a war, the federal government conceded that the current sanctions policy was “unprecedented”. A long text is given, implying the answer is no.

The German government stated that the sanctions would not be lifted until “Russia completely ends its war of aggression against Ukraine, which violates international law, and that the territorial integrity of Ukraine is restored”.

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