Judy Asks: Should the West impose more sanctions on Russia?

Opinion piece (Carnegie Europe)
19 October 2016

The statement on Syria by the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council on October 17 was full of strong rhetoric and empty of substance. The actions of Russia and Syria against the wretched civilians of eastern Aleppo in recent weeks, including attacks on hospitals, are of course the responsibility of those who carry out the bombings; but Western inaction must share the blame.

Stepping up sanctions against both Russia and Syria is the minimum that the West should now do, but the EU has failed to do it. If Russia suffers no penalty for supporting a government that carries out atrocities and faces no consequences for its forces violating international humanitarian law, what chance is there of progress toward a political settlement in Syria?

The EU and the United States should work together to identify Russians with command responsibility for operations in Syria. They should impose financial and visa sanctions on them, but they should also start collecting evidence that could be used in war crimes trials at a later date. And they should fund open-source research into social media posts and mass media reporting to find out which Russian units or individuals have been involved in operations against civilian targets or using banned munitions. There should be no impunity.

Ian Bond, Director of foreign policy at the Center for European Reform.