EU is sabotaging itself with Russian oil sanctions, Khodorkovsky warns – POLITICO

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Russian oil tycoon-turned-dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky on Tuesday accused the EU of committing an enormous blunder with oil sanctions in opposition to Moscow that are actually undermining the 27-nation bloc economically slightly than depleting the Kremlin’s conflict chest.

Russia’s former richest guy mentioned the EU must have secured selection provides earlier than shifting forward with an embargo, or must have thought to be some other means fully comparable to slapping price lists on Russian power slightly than enforcing an outright ban. Through drilling a hollow in its personal price range, Khodorkovsky argued that Europe was once now much less ready to pour money into the all-important job of shopping for extra guns for Ukraine.

After one month of negotiations, EU member nations agreed to prohibit seaborne shipments of oil from Russia by means of the tip of this yr — identical to over 90 p.c of imports — in past due Would possibly.

“This present day, power sanctions are hurting Europe, no longer Russia,” he mentioned, chatting with POLITICO right through his first shuttle to the EU for the reason that conflict in Ukraine started. “My viewpoint was once and stays the similar — what on earth are you doing?”

Khodorkovsky, the previous head of oil large Yukos, spent 10 years in jail on what had been broadly observed as trumped-up fees after he turned into an outspoken critic of the Kremlin. Following his liberate in 2013, Khodorkovsky has campaigned to advertise democracy and human rights in Russia via his Open Russia group.

“The issue is that present Western politicians have by no means held talks with a gangster,” he mentioned, relating to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “You’ll most effective get started negotiating with him when he seems like he is in a weaker place.”

Khodorkovsky, in Brussels for two days of conferences with EU officers and others arranged by means of the Bratislava-based suppose tank GLOBSEC, argues the bloc will have higher spent its money on palms for Ukraine.

“How a lot has the West misplaced in earnings by means of introducing a wide variety of power sanctions? $100 billion, $200 billion?” he mentioned. “Had Ukraine were given no less than $50 billion value of guns as a substitute of $10 billion, the location could be totally other now — with none power sanctions being presented.”

The EU marked down its expansion predictions for this yr by means of round 1 p.c in April amid the conflict in Ukraine — identical to round €160 billion, in response to fresh GDP estimates from the Global Financial Fund. In the meantime, the bloc is placing €2 billion towards palms for Ukraine.

In keeping with Khodorkovsky’s considering, a number of professionals have argued that enforcing price lists would had been sensible since redirecting oil to different nations with the infrastructure recently in position would had been tricky for Moscow. This implies Russian power corporations would most probably have absorbed the upper export prices to Europe, decreasing their margins and in the long run slicing into Moscow’s army funds.

After all, the previous billionaire mentioned Europe must have made extra concerted efforts to search out selection provides for its oil and gasoline neatly earlier than enforcing sanctions. As an alternative, EU nations have needed to exchange Russian power provides by means of hurriedly negotiating advert hoc contracts.

“I used to be amazed once I found out that there have been no settlement on any selection provides after which and [now] you might be introducing sanctions?” Khodorkovsky mentioned.

This text is a part of POLITICO Professional

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