Centre for Defence Strategies

Sanctions policy has always been a factor of economic influence or coercion to prevent the world’s most perilous threats (the likes of nuclear programs of Iran, North Korea, etc.).

Many countries often did not have a separate policy on sanctions and followed in the footsteps of the decisions made by leading nations. Recently, however, sanctions, including national ones, have become an increasingly popular tool, especially in a situation where the world is beset by hybrid threats that do not fall under classical legal regulation.

The annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbas set a precedent when sanctions are used to rectify the situation and force the aggressor to return to the status quo. The sanctions package is quite wide. However, even the period required to impose such sanctions (about six months in the EU) demonstrates that there is no comprehensive understanding and policy on sanctions as a tool of containment or punishment in the international arena.

If to consider sanctions as a consequence of violating international legal norms, it is arbitrary and unregulated. Unlike other branches of law (civil, criminal), where it is clear what consequences the violator will face, there is no such thing in sanctions policy. That being said, no country has either methods for assessing the effectiveness and impact of such sanctions or objective criteria of how to apply them.

Therefore, the purpose of this study is to take a comprehensive view of sanctions policy as such through the lens of the Crimean issue and provide recommendations that could contribute to the formation of national policies of Ukraine and partner countries, as well as of international practices that would have a real impact.