The Latest Developments Surrounding the Malaysian Airline Crisis
By R. Johnson Lykes On Monday, European leaders took the first steps toward restoring order in the calamitous region of Eastern Ukraine, wherein months of senseless violence climaxed in Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 being shot out of the sky by Russian-backed separatists. In conjunction with previous sanctions instituted by the U.S. that targeted Russia’s banking and energy interests, several prominent European nations condemned the reckless civilian killings by imposing further economic restrictions. Though the EU’s response came nearly two weeks following the incident, it still effectively pressures Putin’s regime into tapering violence in the region. Through these sanctions, European nations have effectively solidified the Western world’s intolerance toward Russia’s massacring of innocent civilians for purposes of expanding its international territorial presence. If Putin aims to increase his influence on a global scale, he will do so only by navigating within the parameters set forth by the international community; in short: no more killing innocent people.
Even more impressive than Europe’s forceful posture is that the sanctions were imposed with its knowledge that the restrictions would hamper financial interests in its major countries. Primarily, many of the new sanctions target Russian banks, which will indirectly hinder the British economy. Furthermore, the constraints on the arms trade, specifically the Naval ships that the French had constructed for Russia, will adversely affect France’s struggling financial system. Lastly, energy restrictions, among other sanctions, will negatively impact the German economy. As Adam Slater, a senior economist at Oxford Economics in London, said, “These sanctions can have quite a substantial chilling effect on the Russian economy… That is probably a quite effective way to put pressure on Russia.” Considering that most EU member nations currently face relative economic turmoil, the extent of these latest sanctions provides some perspective as to their significance, and how difficult they must have been for the EU to adopt.
Perhaps the most important dimension of the EU’s ruling lies in that Russia appears to be scrambling to compensate for these impending economic losses. The apparent absence of a concrete Russian strategy suggests that it did not expect the West to make moves this radical against them. Russia has claimed that it will turn to India and China to fill the monetary void that Monday’s restrictions have generated; but neither of those countries have the technology required to safely mine natural resources, nor do they have the banking infrastructure to offer the amount of long-term credit that Western countries can provide. These uncertainties threaten Putin’s customary reasoning when encountering forms of restrictions in the past, when he has exercised the mantra: “[Russia] will survive and move forward, and our partners will fail.” The Russian President has yet to respond to the latest sanctions. Thus, developments in the coming weeks will strongly indicate whether the European Union’s latest sanctions will affect Russia’s finances, and consequently deter its military ambitions, as intended.