The EU says it cannot sanction Russian oil and gas- the biggest source of Putin’s revenue. So, what is it doing? Well, it is sanctioning and canceling Russians in a haphazard manner. And who does it help? Well, Putin and Russia. How? Well, let’s find out.
EU announces real estate curbs on Russians
The European Union has announced the sixth package of sanctions on Russia.
The sanctions now ban property transactions by Russian nationals in the EU territory. The legal text prohibits the sale or transfer, directly or indirectly, of “ownership rights in the immovable property located within the territory of the Union or units in collective investment undertakings providing exposure to such immovable property.”
Targeting Russians; not Russia
Now, the sanctions may seem like a bold measure. But what do they do? Do they target State-owned energy enterprises? No. Do they target the Russian government? Well, no. They only target Russian oligarchs and billionaires.
The latest prohibition will bar Russians who are not EU citizens and lack a residency permit in EU member states. It will not apply to those who carry citizenship or residency in the European Economic Area or Switzerland.
Even earlier actions like attachment of superyachts and detention of other properties were based on a desperate attempt to cancel and punish Russians. The EU itself derives legitimacy for such actions on the basis of the hate agenda against the Russian people.
For Russian oligarchs and billionaires, such attachments and detention of property could lead to temporary dispossession and deprivation from enjoyment of property. However, it doesn’t take away their riches nor does it disown them of their properties and their wealth. The sanctions are therefore weak and inconsequential.
What they however do is backfire and make Putin stronger.
Sanctions on Russians and rallying around the flag
What the EU hopes is that Russian billionaires and oligarchs will blame Putin for being sanctioned on account of the Ukraine war. The EU expects Russians to hit the streets across different cities in the country and organize anti-war rallies. This is how they believe they can weaken Putin.
What the EU is thinking is that Putin will desist from external aggression, if he has an angry constituency to answer back home.
However, what the West doesn’t seem to understand is that Putin has already created a strong “rally around the flag” effect in Russia. You cannot simply go to war without explaining the reason to your country and creating a patriotic effect that can override some economic backlash and the necessary war costs.
Putin created that “rally around the flag effect” by suggesting that Russians and Russian speakers are in danger. And it has worked for him. This is how he annexed Crimea in 2014 and this is exactly how he waged the ongoing war to liberate the Russian-speaking majority in Donbas.
Try to understand what an average Russian may be feeling right now. He feels threatened by the Western propaganda against Russia and looks toward Putin as a savior of the Russian civilization. The support for the Ukraine war by the orthodox Church only enhances this sentiment.
Now, comes the EU with its sanctions against Russians. And suddenly, an average Russian feels that Putin was right all this while. The West is actually after us and we must win the Ukraine war to fight the West. Ultimately, it is Putin who becomes more popular and Russia that becomes stronger.