World

'Staying Switzerland' on Ukraine is impossible

1 March 2022

2:27 AM

1 March 2022

2:27 AM

The striking thing about the financial sanctions on Russia is not their severity, but just how many countries are joining in the effort. Switzerland has today announced that it will adopt the EU sanctions on Russia, particularly significant because it has been the biggest recipient of private transfers by Russians in recent years. The fact that such a traditionally neutral country is imposing sanctions will deepen the wedge between Putin and the rest of the ruling elite.

Meanwhile in Asia, Japan, South Korea and Singapore have signed on to the economic measures on Russia. Their willingness to do this is as much about Taiwan as Ukraine; they know that China is watching closely to see what kind of measures the democratic world is prepared to take against a country that seeks to take territory by force.

These sanctions are already having a massive impact: the ruble is plummeting, the Russian central bank more than doubled interest rates to 20 per cent and the Moscow stock exchange was closed today. It is unclear how Putin will attempt to respond. But it is clear that he has underestimated the costs of this invasion economically and politically. It is hard to imagine relations with Putin’s Russia ever returning to the status quo for the countries that have agreed to put these sanctions in place.

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