A top American Russia analyst has warned that targeted advanced sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s regime are likely to be a “total flop” due to the abject dependence of the British economy on finance from Russian oligarchs.
News of the comments comes just as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced “a massive package of economic sanctions designed in time to hobble the Russian economy” [simply another of Johnson’s many, many lies], as well as efforts to “collectively cease the dependence on Russian oil and gas that for too long has given Putin his grip on western politics”.
According to Paul B Stephan – a Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Virginia, it is Britain that is likely to be the biggest drag on any Western sanctions initiative against Russia.
According to Prof Stephan, the most likely sanctions will be targeting individuals in positions of leadership in Russia, as well as “people in close contact with Putin” including “their families and their firms”.
This – the easiest form of sanctions – would be extremely difficult to implement due to Britain’s intimate financial relationships with Russian oligarchs.
“I think that the US would have difficulty, for example, getting the British to go along with that,” he said in an interview with the University of Virginia.
“The British services economy is so dependent on Russia – from educating their kids, to providing litigation and British courts for disputes among Russian business leaders, to processing investments. I just am really sceptical that the City of London would permit such targeted advanced sanctions to happen. I think an attempt to ban the export of Russian oil and gas would not be successful.”
Both Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party have played a key role in facilitating the influence of Russian money on the British services economy. Prof Stephan’s comments provide important context for the Prime Minister’s invitation to City of London executives to Downing Street on Wednesday to reassure them about the impact of sanctions.