Russian officials and oligarchs often live in prosperous European nations. The EU has a lot of leverage. It could issue an ultimatum: either do this by this date (for example, release all political prisoners, including Navalny), or we, the EU, blacklist all officials and parliamentarians (belonging to or supported by the ruling party United Russia), oligarchs, and members of their families (so it could amount to, probably, dozens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people).

Why doesn't the EU adopt sterner sanctions against the Kremlin?


3 Answers 3


Check out the old Aesop's fable The North Wind and the Sun if you're not already familiar with it.

The point is that if you want someone to do something, threats are not the best way to make them do it. People in general do not like being coerced. They will do everything in their power to not acquiesce. They will complain about your bullying. It's not to say that your threats will not work - if your position is powerful enough the other side has no choice but to obey, it can work - but you can be sure the other side will be looking for ways to defy you, and only obey if they have no other option.

Russia is not at the point of "no other option". In fact, Russia is very far away from "no other option". Look for example at similar situations elsewhere: Trump threatened "maximum pressure" on Iran, which did not make Iran come scrambling back to rejoin the JCPOA, but instead made Iran enrich more uranium. Neither did international condemnation change the situation in Burma, North Korea, or Mali. Compared to these countries, Russia is even harder to intimidate, not just because its economy is bigger but also because it is capable of annihilating the EU if it wants to (with nuclear weapons). Granted it will be annihilated itself if it does this, but it can still take the EU down with it. This means the EU is not powerful enough to force Russia to obey.

If the EU were to issue such an ultimatum, it will only ever cause EU-Russia relations to worsen without actually causing the changes you are looking for. If as an EU leader, that is your aim, then sure, you can go ahead with threats and ultimatums. If on the other hand you are hoping for a working relationship with Russia, it will not be productive.

  • I guess not doing it and continuing to pour dozens of billions into Putin's regime in exchange for fossil fuels turned out to be even less productive Oct 16, 2022 at 2:13
  • @SergeyZolotarev no guarantees that "doing it" would've been more effective, either.
    – Allure
    Oct 16, 2022 at 2:24

The EU can't be too strong against Russia because they rely on Russia for oil and gas provided by pipelines. Russia can shut down pipelines leading to Eastern Europe if they so choose, so the EU has to remain somewhat friendly to Russia at all times. This is why the EU generally supports U.S. sanctions on Russia, because they can pass the blame to the U.S. so pressure is applied indirectly.

  • 1
    If you are going to make extraordinary claims it is usually a good idea to back it up with credible sources. In addition, "Russia can shut down Eastern Europe if they so choose" sounds like it comes straight from gazeta Pravda, so -1. Jun 10, 2021 at 16:20
  • 1
    @bytebuster Russia already shut down gas supplies before, it's hardly extraordinary. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/….
    – Ryathal
    Jun 11, 2021 at 12:11
  • Ah, so you meant, Russia can shutdown its gas pipelines to Eastern Europe, contrary to shutting down the Eastern Europe itself as they threaten in gazeta Pravda... Jun 11, 2021 at 13:03

Ultimately, the question is in itself an answer. Why doesn't the EU blackmail Russian oligarchs?

Because Russian oligarchs are mostly people who make lots of money at the expense of the well-being and interests of Russian people, politics and interests, then invest that money in EU countries which they like to visit during their vacations. Why would you want to blackmail someone that does more harm than good to the country you are trying to pressure, especially when that means that they will stop investing in your economy, and just take their money elsewhere?


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