The interview opening new issue of our journal states that sanctions against Russia have proved useless since they have not been able to affect large businesses or life of Russians seriously and they have brought only a certain effect in a political sphere. But particularly this effect -in a political sphere- is the most important goal (achievement) of the sanctions and therefore they fit their purpose.
The European Union is not interested in economical destruction of Russia, but it wants to demonstrate that continuance of business “as usual”, which was just shortly interrupted after the Russian-Georgian war, is not thinkable after another, far bloodier, Putin´s adventure in Ukraine.
There is one more and very important aspect of the EU sanctions against Russia. President Putin likes to hint that the EU is weak and disunited. Therefore, according to his opinion, the lifting of sanctions must come, sooner or later, without any substantial Russian concessions. Simply put he insinuates, that Europe will not bear internal and external pressure and will retreat.
However, the situation still looks a bit differently. European countries are able to prolong sanctions and demonstrate their unity in this case. Similar attitude of EU countries towards Ukrainian crisis not onlydemonstrates to Russians their isolation, caused by Putin´s actions, but also contests Putin´s “famous” clairvoyance in the public view.
So far the European position has been fully supported by United States, however, Donald Trump´s victory in the elections initiated a certain degree of optimism in Kremlin and historical parallels to the case of Elisabeth of Russia and of Peter III of Russia. According to the expectation prevailing in Moscow, Trump could change U.S. policy towards Russia, break it´s existing unity with the EU and make a “mutually” advantageous deal with Russia.
Putin has, resembling mythological Siren, tried to send positive messages to new resident of the White House. No wonder. Closer contacts with American president help Putin to break the isolation, in which he feels very uncomfortable. His facial expression during his meetings with players mostly from lower floors of world politics speaks more than eloquently.
However, all celebrations in Moscow can be premature. After the meeting with representatives of US intelligence services Trump´s rhetoric became rather more moderate. If he read any book by Masha Hessen or Steven Lee Meyers or similar authors, maybe, he would lose the will to shake Putin´s hand at all.