The West wants to bring Russia to its senses with an economic war. But that doesn’t hurt Vladimir Putin very much, after all he has “friends”. Says Vladimir Kaminer.
The headline “The EU has agreed on a tenth package of sanctions against Russia” impressed me last week – and at the same time caused a certain astonishment. Something must be wrong with these sanctions, even if their impact appears to be great.
Ten packages of sanctions from the European Union in one year! The regime in the Kremlin has thus left its new friends, Iran and North Korea, behind and rightly deserves a place in the Guinness Book of Records: as the most sanctioned country in the world, which is least aware of the sanctions. All ten packages appear to fly past Russia.
Vladimir Kaminer is a writer and columnist. He was born in Moscow in 1967 and has lived in Germany for more than 30 years. His most famous works include “Russian disco“. His new book was recently released “How do I tell my mother. The new world explained: from gender asterisks to organic seals“.
Why is that? At the beginning of the war, outrage at the Russian invasion of Ukraine was omnipresent. We don’t do business with murderers, the EU decided. The sanctions widely announced by the western world were intended to weaken the regime in the Kremlin, empty its coffers and turn the war of aggression against Ukraine into an investment that the state could not sustain in the long term.
As a result of the sanctions, several foreign companies, including German companies, had announced that they would be giving up their locations in Russia. The western press wrote of an “exodus of foreign companies”. Today, almost a year after the start of the raid, we find that only about eight percent of western companies have left Russia completely. Most of those who left were American and Japanese companies, with Germany taking first place among those who stayed.
The west on the wrong track?
Even the EU sanctions are still not having enough effect, the world markets continue to be filled with Russian oil and gas, these goods find their way to their well-known Otto end users via India and Turkey, just more expensive. The reasons for this are now obvious.
For one thing, the West has overestimated its potential for an economic blockade of Russia. The country is too big and the world outside is too fragmented. Unless such big economies as China, India and Turkey support sanctions, they make no sense. On the other hand, ethics and capitalism are often difficult to reconcile.
The ultimate goal of a capitalist enterprise is not the spread of democratic values, but the increase of capital. On the other hand, if the capital is destroyed, the company goes bankrupt. And of course the Russian President made it as difficult as possible for Western companies to leave Russia. They had to leave their assets for “free” or sell them at a ridiculous price: Renault sold its Russian business for a symbolic ruble.
The German car manufacturers also had to leave functional, laboriously and lovingly built car companies in Russia and write off the billions in costs as collateral damage from the war. BASF has gone and Siemens has gone, at a great loss.
The dilemma of the west
My friends in Moscow who worked for these companies have become unemployed. Ikea and McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Jack Daniels left Russia. Their assets are now declared the spoils of war for those who supported the war. With the takeover of Western companies, local companies are recognized that have proven their loyalty to the regime in the Kremlin – and, for example, released their employees for partial mobilization.
The Western capitalist faces a dilemma in today’s Russia: how is he supposed to know exactly where his profit ends and where a crime may begin? For example, aiding and abetting the murder of innocent civilians in Ukraine? I know that many of those who stayed are asking themselves this question. And explain their motives for staying with general human values. Wars come and go, people stay.