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Germany's Baerbock decries weak impact of Russia sanctions

August 24, 2023

The disappointment expressed by Germany's foreign minister comes as the Russian economy continues to grow despite the economic sanctions imposed by West.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, center, and a Ukrainian War Prosecutor talk as they stand near a mass grave in Bucha
The interview is part of Lamby's book, which delves into the German government's response to the warImage: Efrem Lukatsky/AP/picture alliance

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that Western sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine were not having an "economic impact," in a book interview published Thursday.

"Economic sanctions should have an economic impact. But that is not the case. Because the logic of democracies does not work in autocracies." Baerbock told journalist Stephan Lamby in an interview for his new book.

The book, "Ernstfall. Regieren in Zeiten des Krieges," which translates as "Emergency: Governing in Times of War," examines the German government's response to the war in Ukraine .

"We have learned that with rational decisions, rational measures, agreed between civilized governments, it is not possible to end this war," Baerbock said in the interview carried out on July 10.

What is the impact of the sanctions on Russian economy?

The disappointment expressed by Baerbock comes as the Russian economy continues to grow despite the economic sanctions imposed by Western allies following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

The United States and the European Union have levied unprecedented sanctions against Moscow to limit Russia's ability to finance its war effort. However, the Russian economy has not collapsed under the weight of sanctions as was predicted in some quarters.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, speaks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during a working session in Mariyinsky Palace, in Kyiv
Baerbock became the first German minister to visit Ukraine in May 2022, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz visiting Kyiv in June that yearImage: Ludovic Marin/Pool/AP/picture alliance

Western economists emphasize that Russia owes its growth mainly to its war economy and the massively increased production of weapons and ammunition. They say that the growth is not sustainable.

In June, the European Union agreed to another round of sanctions  aimed at closing the loopholes exploited by Russia to evade sanctions.

With the move, the EU sought to crack down on the re-exportation via third countries to Russia of sensitive technology that can be used on the battlefield, such as microchips.

Baerbock criticizes German government's late visit to Kyiv

In the interview, Baerbock was also critical of the German government's initial reluctance to travel to Kyiv.

She became the first government official to visit the war zone in Ukraine on May 10, 2022, over two months after the Russian invasion.

This visit occurred amidst visits from numerous heads of state and government officials from European allies who had come to show solidarity with Ukraine.

Even Friedrich Merz, the leader of the German opposition, visited earlier than Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who arrived more than a month after him.

ai/rc ( AFP, dpa)

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