Business New Europe
March 7, 2014
Ben Aris in Moscow
Let's get a few things straight at the start. Russia's actions in Crimea is not the start of a war nor is it an invasion. There are no tanks on the street. No shots have been fired. No one has died. In fact almost no force has been used at all as the bulk of the people in Crimea have actually welcomed the Russian troops. To judge by most of the (confused and hyperbolic) reports coming out of the region the mood on the streets is pretty calm, with the exception of a few pockets of tension around a few military installations.
But as always with Russia, everyone has lost their mind. The press is full of screaming headlines announcing war, a new Cold War, invasion, anschlusses and other extreme and evocative rhetorical monikers for the current, and very real, political crisis. Things escalated on March 6 when the US and then EU announced they would impose sanctions (that at this point amounts to no more than a very limited list of visa bans for some Russian officials).
The visa bans reflect, "a policy decision to deny visas to those responsible for or complicit in threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney wrote in a statement. "This new step stands in addition to the policy already implemented to deny visas to those involved in human rights abuses related to political oppression in Ukraine," otherwise known as the Magnitsky list. So the sum total of the US "retaliation" to Russia's "annexation" of Ukraine's Crimea so far amounts to banning less than 50 people from entering the country.