AbstractsPolitical Science

Strongly Worded Letters; At skrive med store bogstaver

by Martin Lønsted

Institution: Roskilde University
Year: 2015
Keywords: sanctions; russia; the EU; ukraine crisis; crimea; liberalism; realism; Jan Egeland; Diggy Diggy; Political Science; International Relation; International Politics
Record ID: 1119907
Full text PDF: http://rudar.ruc.dk/handle/1800/20358


This project investigates the causes behind the sanctions implemented on Russia in three rounds, during the, at the time of writing, ongoing event of the Ukraine crisis, asking: “Why did the European Union implement sanctions on Russia, in response to the Russian annexation of Crimea?” In order to answer this, we first examine the theoretic framework of international relations and sanctions, using realism and liberalism as to understand the empirical material. Realism perceives sanctions as coercive foreign policy tools, effectively extensions of state-power, like Clausewitz argue warfare is. Liberalism, on the other hand use sanctions as punitive instruments, employed to punish transgression of international laws and norms, rather than corrective instruments. The project examines the historical contextualisation of the sanctions against Russia, along with examining the EU-Russian relationship. In this conflict both Russia and the EU have interests in Ukraine, we find that the sanctions have been escalated from political to economic sanctions over the course of the Ukraine crisis, which have had extensive consequences for the Russian economy. The media generally express a small overweight of arguments supporting that EU is protecting international laws and norms against Russia. The official sources generally supports the western-aligned media, using the Russian violation of laws and norms as the reason for imposing sanctions on Russia. The academic literature did not add much to this, and generally discusses why it is important for the EU to uphold their laws and norms, namely that inactivity in this area would undermine their own authority, collapsing their own system. We then examine this empirical material with the theories of realism and liberalism, generally finding that the realist explanation would be that sanctions are used as tools to make Russia comply with EU demands, whilst the laws and norms discourse is solely used to sell this position to the population. The liberals, however, argue that sanctions are used punitively, in order to defend European principles against Russian violations. These violations, however, can from a Russian perspective be defended with Russian principles, here expressed as an effort to protecting the ethnic Russians living in East Ukraine from the revolutionary government. From this perspective, we are dealing with a clash of value-paradigms, that both see Ukraine as under the protection of their norms and laws. Our final conclusion thus becomes, that when the EU imposes sanctions on Russia, they are used solely to punish lawbreaking. This is the pivotal role of sanctions, that without punishment of these kinds of violations, the order and integrity of the international society might corrode. This is why the sanctions are enacted, even though they might not be expressly effective, and might even hurt the European economy.