Area bans, stolen planes… could Russia’s retaliatory measures harm the West?

“I thank the Russian Academy for this prize”. In a tweet posted Tuesday, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded ironically to the publication of her name on the list of US citizens targeted by Russian sanctions. With just 13 names, the latter didn’t quite make headlines across the Atlantic. The same goes for the other measures that Russia has taken or is considering in retaliation for Western sanctions decided upon since the offensive in Ukraine.

In addition to the former 2016 presidential candidate, who recently took a stand against Vladimir Putin, this list obviously includes Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden, as well as a dozen members of the US government. A similar list of Canadian officials, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and several of his ministers, was also released Tuesday.

The exact nature of the sanctions taken against them has not been specified, but the Russian ministry is content to say they were enacted “on the principle of reciprocity” following the “unprecedented” sanctions that Joe Biden has set against ” senior officials of the Russian Federation”. Republic”.

But beyond that, the Russian announcement seems very weak. In addition, it failed to impress White House spokesman Jen Psaki, who ironically assured a news conference that none of the targeted U.S. officials “planned to make a tourist trip to Russia anytime soon” or have bank accounts there. had.

For the economist and deputy director of the Iris (Institute of International and Strategic Relations) Sylvie Matelly, the brevity of this list is simply due to the fact that the Kremlin… doesn’t have the resources to punish many people. “Unlike the Russian oligarchs who invest in Europe and the United States, few Western billionaires own villas in Crimea,” she notes.

Thousands of planes flown

Vladimir Putin has also signed a decree authorizing Russian airlines to appropriate the approximately 500 leased Airbuses and Boeings in service in Russia, Les Echos said. The Kremlin master also allowed them to convert the airworthiness certificates of their foreign-registered aircraft into domestic certificates. In other words, Russian airports currently have about 1,245 aircraft owned or used by Western companies.

Can this decision, after two years of health crisis, finally bury American and European aircraft manufacturers? Not really according to the economic newspaper, which states that a large part of the planes rented by Russian companies are not brand new and will soon be unusable anyway. “Russia is a relatively modest market on the scale of the large aircraft rental companies,” the paper also notes. In addition, this decision risks cutting off the country’s supply of spare parts and software updates, rendering its own devices unusable in the medium term.

Russian McDonald’s?

Finally, the last means of pressure proposed by Russia concerns foreign companies present on its territory. Moscow last week legalized the theft of patents from anyone connected to “enemy” countries, the Washington Post reported in its March 10 issue. A measure that “is intended to mitigate the impact of shortages of goods and services that have arisen as a result of new sanctions by Western countries,” according to the Russian agency Tass.

According to the US daily, the Kremlin is preparing the publication of a decree stopping proceedings in the event of theft of industrial property of trademarks. Russia could then “nationalize the McDonald’s that have been temporarily closed in the country, let the restaurants just run by local operators and continue to call them McDonald’s,” for example, explained the newspaper Josh Gerben, a U.S. attorney who specializes in intellectual property. .

A blow to the fast food company that gets 9% of its revenue from Russia and Ukraine. However, this measure may also have a limited impact here. “Nothing says that the Russian market will still be so attractive after this war, and Western brands know full well that Putin will not remain at the head of Russia forever.” The Washington Post also notes that prior to this decision, the country was not known for its respect for intellectual property…

Two hypotheses can explain the weakness of these Russian reprisals compared to the Western economic “blitzkrieg,” as Vladimir Putin described it on Wednesday. The first, improbable one, is that Russia will reserve another round of massive sanctions for later. The second is that the room for maneuver is very limited. “Vladimir Putin may fear that the consequences of the reprisals will be too severe for his own economy or the Russian people,” explains Sylvie Matelly.

Indeed, in an interview with AFP on Wednesday, Sergei Guriev, a former economic adviser to the Russian government-in-exile in France, predicted that there will be “a massive recession” in the country. Another hypothesis of the expert: the Kremlin captain did not receive the guarantee of unconditional economic support from China in the long term.