Increasingly, I am receiving requests for legal support from Russian and Western individuals and businesses who are suffering from the economic sanctions imposed by the West on Russia, and from Russia’s counter-measures.
The legality of these sanctions is dubious at best. They flagrantly violate the free trade principles enshrined in the World Trade Organisation treaty and a host of other agreements. But putting legal arguments aside, politicians on all sides would do well to study the human cost of sanctions, and genuinely consider alternatives to this self-defeating form of economic warfare.
Economic sanctions rarely achieve anything, even in geopolitical terms. They merely fuel suspicion and hostility between states and peoples. Since the West first imposed sanctions this spring, Russia’s leadership has only further dug in its heels. It is telling that even President Obama and other leading American politicians have, on more than one occasion, admitted that sanctions have had no real impact on the Kremlin’s stance on Ukraine.