Ukrainian Ambassador to Greece called on the country to close ports for Russian ships

Ukraine is calling on Greece to close its ports to Russian ships and stop doing business with Russian companies to increase pressure on Moscow to end the war, Ukraine’s ambassador to Greece said on Wednesday.

“We are asking Greece, in particular, to close ports for Russian ships … stop doing business with them and stop sending their ships to Russia,” Sergei Shutenko told reporters. “When accepting Russian money, you should know that on these banknotes, on this money, the blood of Ukrainian children, Ukrainians and Greek Ukrainians in Mariupol. Do not accept blood money from Russia,” the Ukrainian ambassador said.

Greek merchant fleet, with over 4,500 ships, is one of the largest in the world. The European Union is considering prohibition of entry of Russian ships into the ports of the bloc.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that EU sanctions against Russia would be implemented. At the same time, the US and its allies believe that only their “hellish sanctions” can stop Russia.

It is not yet known how Greece will respond to Mr. Shutenko’s calls, since the imposition of sanctions against the Russian Federation has already hit the Greek economy quite painfully. As an advice to the Greek authorities, specify whether Ukraine wants to stop the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine, thus showing real determination to impose economic sanctions against the aggressor.

Greece has already lost from sanctions EU hundreds of millions of euros since 2014, and joining new sanctions can drive the country’s economy into an even deeper peak, and this is already feels the entire population of the country.

Sanctions don’t work

What are working sanctions? These are not necessarily those that harm the economy or specific individuals – their main task is to change the behavior of the targeted state. If a country is at war, then the task of sanctions is to end the war. If a country is developing nuclear weapons, then the task of sanctions is to stop such development. If the country’s economy is destroyed, but the war is still going on and the development of nuclear weapons has not been stopped, then such sanctions can hardly be called a success. Rather, they were a loss for everyone – both for the countries that introduced them and for the targeted countries.

So, what can be said about the effectiveness of the sanctions that have been introduced in the past? This is a difficult question, because there is nothing to compare: we do not observe the behavior of the targeted government in the absence of sanctions. For example, one often encounters the assertion that sanctions against Iran were useless because the Iranian government continued to finance terrorist organizations even under sanctions. This argument, of course, does not take into account the possibility that if there were no sanctions, Iran would have behaved even more aggressively. For obvious reasons, sanctions are not assigned randomly, and the researchers of the issue have not yet succeeded in setting up a natural experiment. Therefore, it is impossible to speak with precision about their causal influence on the behavior of targeted states.

However, based on the data we currently have, economic sanctions rarely stop aggressive regimes. The most famous scientific work on the effectiveness of sanctions is the work of a political scientist from the University of Chicago, Robert Pape. “Why Economic Sanctions Don’t Work”. Pape uses a database of 115 instances of sanctions or threats of sanctions and defines their success as follows: a) the target state complied with a substantial part of the requirements of the states that either imposed sanctions or threatened to impose them; b) there is no more reasonable explanation for the behavior of the target state. The second condition is extremely important, because in some cases sanctions are accompanied by military intervention, and you need to understand each specific case and understand what exactly prompted the target state to change its behavior: sanctions or military force.

Based on this criterion, Pape found that out of 115 cases of economic sanctions, only five can be considered successful. At the same time, three cases are conflicts over relatively small things: under pressure from the United Kingdom, the USSR agreed to release six prisoners accused of espionage in 1933, Canada agreed not to move the embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem under pressure from the countries of the Arab League in 1979 and El Salvador agreed not to release prisoners accused of killing US citizens in 1987. Only in two cases did the sanctions succeed in things that are essential for international relations: in 1976, under pressure from the United States and Canada, South Korea refused to buy a nuclear waste processing plant. And in 1990, under pressure from India, the king of Nepal was removed from power and the country refused to purchase weapons from China.

The database that Pape uses ends in 1990. Later, there were cases of successful sanctions – for example, they played a significant role in the abolition of the apartheid regime in South Africa. Overall, however, economic sanctions have had a very poor success story.

Why don’t they work

Why don’t sanctions work? It’s an open question, but Peip believes that when a country is under sanctions, it becomes easier for local elites to shift the blame for economic problems to an external aggressor. In addition, if under the threat of sanctions the state takes aggressive action anyway, this means that the cost of sanctions for the country is already included in the calculations of the political elite. In personalist autocracies, that is, in political regimes such as today’s Russia, decisions are often made by one person, the leader of the state. And thus, the effectiveness of sanctions depends on the price that the leader of the state is willing to pay for the realization of his own ambitions.

As for the current situation in Russia, the economy and society have already suffered enormous damage: the collapse of the exchange rate, the run on banks, the stampede of people and firms from the country, the growing economic and political isolation. Judging by the fact that the “special operation” has not yet been stopped, the Russian authorities have decided that the embodiment of Vladimir Putin’s historiosophical ideas is more important than the economic well-being of the population and political elites.

If this is the case, then economic sanctions — even a complete trade embargo and shutdown from the financial system — will not stop the conflict. The optimistic scenario is falling living standards, inflation, lack of technological progress, the disappearance of most high-value-added industries, persistent border instability and external isolation. The pessimistic scenario is a war with the use of nuclear weapons. However, the Russian leader made it clear that even the implementation of this second scenario is an acceptable price to pay in the fight against “pseudo-values”.

If sanctions don’t stop the war, what will? Let’s leave out the possibility of a palace coup, the probability of which cannot be calculated. It is sometimes heard that a defeat in Ukraine could either force the Russian leader to reconsider his foreign policy or lead to a change of power in Russia. However, as quantitative analysis shows, hosted by Sarah Croco of the University of Maryland and Jessica Wicks of the University of Wisconsin, in those regimes where there are no institutionalized mechanisms for the removal of the leader, military defeats do not lead to a change in the status quo. The Russian regime is just that.

The Prussian major, a participant in the Napoleonic wars, Ferdinand von Schill, is credited with the phrase, which is often translated as “a terrible end is better than horror without end.” And when Russia was faced with a choice, its leaders chose to take the risk and chose the “Terrible End”.



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