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Ukraine: amb. Perelygin, minimal losses are due to sanctions

Let's stop deceiving the public, let's blame those responsible

07 April, 18:26
(ANSA) - TRIESTE, APR - Here below a report written by the Ukrainian ambassador in Rome, Yevhen Perelygin. According to him, we continue to deceive public opinion about the role of sanctions against Russia because ''the real economic losses'' in this sense ''are minimal if we consult the official Italian statistical data''.

''The recent unanimous reaction in UK and the allied countries in response to any 'dirty actions' of Russia, in the so-called 'Skripal case', have raised a heated debate about the possibilities of extending sanctions to Russia. The debate is provoking a backlash in Italy, where ''a damage of 10 billion euros'', and the ''economic catastrophe'' have been mentioned, and it has been highlighted that Italy is the most damaged country.

The issue of sanctions is very important and multifaceted. First of all, I would like to remind you of the reason why EU sanctions were introduced: armed aggression and the attempt to annex a part of the territory of Ukraine, a sovereign and independent country. Russia should have behaved, instead, like a ''guarantor'' of Ukraine's integrity, sovereignty and independence.

What could have been the response to such violent and cynical actions that have trampled on the fundamental principles of international law? No one would have liked active military actions, Ukraine militarily reacted against the Russian troops and the Western world supported us with the application of sanctions. These sanctions haven't in any way affected Italian businesses in the agri-food and fashion sectors, or industry in general. Those sanctions had the goal to repel Russian military aggression and force the Federation to respect the rules of international law. Therefore, the sanctions introduced have clearly and precisely hit the perpetrators of the attack on Ukraine, the military-industrial companies and the related structures, the major arm dealers, some specific devices and the dual-use technologies.

The only losses suffered by Italian companies are due to the so-called ''counter-sanctions'', introduced by Russia. These measures wanted to be a reaction, in my opinion senseless, on the part of the Kremlin, considering that they affect their own population first of all. The sanctions imposed by Russia to Italy, for retaliation, have damaged Italian exports in the agri-food sector such as meat, poultry, vegetables, fruit, cheese and salami. What are the real economic losses due to sanctions against Russia? The Russian sanctions affect 55 groups in the agri-food sector. After briefly checking the figures, we can see that Italian exports of goods corresponding to these positions in 2013 (even before sanctions) amounted to 202.7 million. Of course, this is not a negligible amount, but certainly not comparable with the ''damage of 10 billion'', evoked by some media. On the other hand, these goods under Russian sanctions accounted for only 1.8% of total Italian exports to Russia, and 0.6% of Italian exports of agri-food products to all other countries. Indeed, not all 202.7 million have been lost. In 2017, Italy exported these goods for 37.4 million euros. This estimate was confirmed by the ICE (Italian Trade Agency) which, in its annual report for 2016, ascertains that ''considering specifically the Italian products affected by the Russian embargo, the decline in their total exports amounts to about 151 million euro in the two-year period 2014-15 ''.

So why has Italian exports to Russia fallen and how much? In 2013 Italy's total export to Russia amounted to 10.7 billion euro (ISTAT data), therefore the thesis of losses of the same amount, 10 billion, seems doubtful. From 2013 to 2016, the contraction in supplies to Russia was 12.6% per year, while exports grew by 19.3% in 2017. The main factor that caused a significant reduction in trade flows into the Russian Federation has been the oil's price collapse that, for a country dependent on exports, has caused a sharp decline in the flow of currency into the country. This episode resulted in a decline in Russia's purchasing power and a significant devaluation of the ruble.

Moreover, it is surprising to me that during these years no one but me has talked about the losses of the Italian economy in trade with Ukraine due to Russian aggression. Between 2013 and 2016, Italian exports were reduced by 1.3 billion US dollars, according to data from the Center for International Trade. And according to international experts, Russian aggression has cost Ukraine about 98.4 billion. Contracts lost in Ukraine, who knows why, are not so much according to the proponents of the abolition of sanctions.

And even if the economic part of the question is more or less clear, the moral and ethical issue remains on the table.

According to the UN estimate, Ukraine has suffered the loss of more than 10 thousand lives, including soldiers and civilians.

And this is not merely a statistic. It means that a grandfather buries his two grandchildren, that an only child never returns home to visit his parents and that many children become orphans.

As I have said from the beginning, sanctions against Russia have been imposed to an aggressor, a country that does not respect international agreements and law. Sanctions are the only legal tool we have to put Russia under pressure. Abolishing sanctions in the absence of concrete steps implemented by Russia toward a normalization of the situation in Ukraine, including Crimea, will mean being weak and dependent, recognizing Russia's right to force and giving Moscow a free hand''. (ANSA).

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