Monday 21 July 2014 4:31 pm

Are tougher sanctions the best way to tackle Putin’s Russia?

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Timothy Ash, head of emerging market research (ex Africa) at Standard Bank, says Yes.

Sanctions have already had an effect, by preventing a broader Russian incursion into Ukraine. Russia did not expect them, and the measures made it bide time to assess their impact.

Crucially, this gave the new Ukrainian government time to regroup, and for free and fair elections to be held.

What alternative does the EU have against a Moscow administration determined to adopt a destructive approach towards Ukraine?

Should the West do nothing, and watch as Russia intervenes more directly? Where next? Poland? The Baltic states?

Ukrainians have risked their lives in support of common European values: justice, rule of law, democracy, and a market economy. They deserve our support, and we cannot stand by as borders are redrawn by force, against the will of a nation.

If Europe fails to act, it will have failed to learn from past mistakes. There is no military option – meaningful sanctions offer the only hope of changing Russia’s course.

Dylan Kissane, director of graduate studies and professor of international politics at CEFAM in Lyon, France, as No.

Any country seeking to punish Russia for the events of recent months could do worse than applying sanctions – but they could do a lot better too.

Economic sanctions are only effective when the sanctioning parties are willing to bear the cost of the measures to their own economies.

Want to cripple the Russian energy market by placing sanctions on gas exports? Fine – but don’t forget how large a shadow Gazprom casts over European markets.

Want to shut down Russian financial activity in Europe? Great – but this might mean ripping billions of pounds, euros, and Swiss francs out of already depressed economies.

Stricter sanctions are only a useful option if the costs of the measures are willingly borne by the sanctioning parties. And there is nothing to suggest that the UK, France and Germany are willing to bear some of the more substantial costs right now.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.