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BRUSSELS: More economic sanctions on Russia would have a devastating effect on the European economic and financial sectors, politicians and pundits have told Sputnik.
The United States and the European Union have repeatedly threatened Russia with massive consequences and economic costs if it acts aggressively against Ukraine. Russia has, in turn, made repeated assurances that it is not planning to invade.
‘Europe must wake up and stop blindly following the Americans in the (fake) Ukraine-NATO crisis. Saying that Europe is ‘astonished’ at the American dramatization is not enough. We must stop this escalation, Filip Dewinter, a member of the Belgian federal parliament, told Sputnik.
Dewinter, who co-founded the right-wing party Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest), said that Russia’s 2014 retaliatory restrictions on Flemish fruit and dairy exports hit the agricultural sector of the northern Belgian region very badly.
He said another wave of heavy sanctions would be a real disaster for Flanders and his native city of Antwerp, the second-largest European harbour, where Russian cargo makes up the third-largest share of traffic in terms of tonnage.
Europe’s political decision-makers and economists, including at the European Central Bank, fear that sanctions on Russia could take a toll on the European financial sector and investments in Russia, says Nina Bachkatov, a professor of political science at the University of Liege in Belgium.
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‘As time passes, there is a clear discrepancy emerging between the escalating threatening talk and the perception of how bad such sanctions would be for the European economy. Russia would be hurt but economic sanctions would be punitive for Europe, at least as much as for Russia’, she told Sputnik.
The expert said that threats made in 2014 to take Russia off SWIFT led Moscow to reduce its dependence on the global instant payments system and the US dollar. Bachkatov said that unplugging Russia from SWIFT would be a disaster for banks such as the Netherlands’ ING Group.
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