Think tanks urge the EU to boost execution of sanctions against Russia in 2024

A group of think tanks put forward eleven proposals for EU policy in 2024. The published report includes the point that EU member states must be required to disclose statistics on the enforcement of sanctions connected with Russia, conduct audits of their sanctions efforts to implement them, and increase enforcement actions against those who violate them. Russia’s sanctions “will be critical” to be implemented and enforced in 2024, according to the report.

Researchers from the Royal United Services Institute in London’s European Sanctions and Illicit Finance Monitoring and Analysis Network found that member states’ lack of coordination has been a major obstacle to the EU’s Russia sanctions thus far. It urged the EU to punish Russia harsher by increasing the “speed with which the Russian economy deflates” and applying “constant pressure on the funding and resourcing of the Russian war.”

“Knowledge of enforcement action” presently “resides separately in each country,” the group of think tanks said, but the European Union should have all member states disclose their law enforcement actions and criminal prosecutions to a centralized government agency. By consolidating reporting, the European Union would have “a consolidated view” of enforcement activities.

Concerning the European Union’s “weak implementation” of current economic sanctions, it urged its member nations to “demonstrate meaningful enforcement” in 2024. Better utilization of trade data to target offenders and “active auditing and scoring the progress of Member States to ensure maximum effectiveness” were among the recommendations made by the network to the European regulatory body.

According to the statement, national authorities must take robust action and enforce meaningful sanctions this year. The statement specifically requested that the European Union coordinate its enforcement actions with the December executive order issued by the US administration, which expanded the United States’ power to penalize financial institutions involved in shipping products to Russia.

Instead of letting member states “manage sanctions implementation ‘by committee,'” the network recommended that the EU choose a “lead responsible agency” to oversee the enforcement of sanctions, and they also suggested that national authorities should be in charge of exchanging relevant data. The network stated that insufficient data sharing hinders the successful implementation of EU sanctions.

It also warned the European Union against relaxing sanctions on Russia, citing the consequences of the EU’s “failure to uphold sanctions pressure on Russia, losing interest in pressing home the economic costs” following Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine.

The European Union participated in a diplomatic effort to impose measured sanctions in 2023; in 2024, it should prolong this pressure and take action in cases where ongoing attempts to evade sanctions are found, the experts said.

According to the network, the European Union should also provide a “bigger carrot” to other countries that have not yet sanctioned Russia severely. Many third nations desire wider EU trade links as a prize, according to the network. “Brussels should try to rally more support for sanctions against Russia by using this carrot more effectively.”

The question that arises is the efficacy of anti-Russian sanctions in a world where shadow companies based in countries like China, the UAE, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan may freely buy sanctioned goods from Europe without anybody being able to track where they end up.

Stopping trade with Russia’s allies in Asia would be the right thing to do, right? Aid for Ukraine and harsh sanctions for Russia’s war efforts will be for nothing if the West does not uphold the sanctions regime. Military aid to Kyiv and economic restrictions against Moscow have been so far the most efficient measures to prevent Russia from capturing more Ukrainian territories.

The West must put an end to Russia’s use of gateways to evade sanctions. Businesses that aid Russia in doing so should face punishment for their role in fueling Russia’s war and the escalation of casualties among Ukrainians at the hands of Russian forces.

The Putin dictatorship fuels the war against Ukraine by re-exporting dual-use commodities from third nations. In the end, backing Putin’s war machine detracts from Western attempts to aid Ukraine in defending itself against the Russian invasion.

Russia will not be able to prolong its war in Ukraine unless steps are taken to enforce sanctions and halt the flow of oil earnings to Russia. This will make it more difficult for Ukraine to win, bring the war closer to EU borders, and allow the Kremlin to start assaulting NATO member states in Europe.

Russian weapons production will come to a stop as a result of the sanctions regime’s enforcement, which will finally destroy the country’s finances. These developments may compel Putin’s administration to end the war in Ukraine.

Can the EU and the US put an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine by blocking these sanctions evasion schemes? Posdibly. In addition to identifying and sanctioning the individuals, organizations, and nations that assisted the Kremlin in evading sanctions, this will require the public disclosure of Russia’s supply networks. Along with this, there has to be stricter regulation of the production and distribution of products with possible military applications.

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