The Chairperson of the Aspen Institute Kyiv Natalie Jaresko: “The sanctions are not enough because the war is not over”


Aspen Institute Kyiv continues to launch joint panel discussions with the International Partners — #UkrainianDialogue. The main objective of the project is to provide international partners’ Communities with truthful information about the Russian war in Ukraine and explain how the world could help us. During the event with Aspen Institute Italy, the Aspen Institute Kyiv Chairperson and the Minister of Finance of Ukraine (2014 — 2016) Natalie Jaresko stressed the level of sanctions against Russia, which would be sufficient. 

Among other issues, Natalie Jaresko pays special attention to the isolation of the Russian economy utilizing sanctions, trade, and business boycott tools, as well as the strategy of recovering and reconstructing the country and the possible sanctioning, financial, and other support of international partners.

Natalie says that Ukraine is very grateful for the support it is already getting from all the democratic countries. But in her opinion, it is not enough because the war is not over. Our country has been given too little, too late military support. Ukraine needs more. Particularly on the air defense side. 

«We need to cease, stop, and ban the approach of oil and gas from Russia»

The effect of some sanctions, for example, the export controls, could be seen right now. Certain high-level precision defense equipment is not being able to be manufactured because the import of the particular parts has been stopped to their immediate effects. But in general, sanctions have not been enough. 

— We see that simply by the Russian economy, which is coming back after an initial decline. We see that the core account balance of Russia is being founded by the European purchase of oil and gas. Whatever sanctions we had put on the Central bank of Russia initially had an effect. But that effect is being whitewashed by the continuous purchase of oil and gas by Europe. Their dollar resources are refilling daily because of oil and gas purchases. We need to sanction all of the Russian banks. And we need to close all the loopholes where their financial system is functioning. And most importantly — we need to cease, stop, and ban the approach of oil and gas from Russia. 

Natalie is sure that the issue for all of us is how much can we do to end this war. 

— Time is of the essence, lives are at the stake. We have seen what happens when we wait in World War II. We have been through all these examples of waiting and negotiating with the autocrats, dictators, with murderers. We have to learn our lessons from World War II and not wait for more to happen. That means we have to put all the tools at our disposal.

«Staying in Russia is a short-form view on profitability for the business»

Other tool, which is important particularly in Italy, is a boycott of the Russian market. It means volunteering sells-sanctioning by businesses in the Russian market. Natalie stressed that every business that continues functioning in Russia is paying taxes. Those taxes are financing the missiles, the troops, and the tanks that are now killing Ukrainians. She urges every company worldwide to boycott Russia and to stop financing war crimes. 

— Yes, that is painful. But when South Africa was going through apartheid we all agreed that it was a greater issue at the stake. And the greater issue at the end would be better for companies to operate on the basis of values. Today we use the term ESG (environmental, social, governance) principles. Those principles mean nothing if companies continue to operate in an autocratic country where the dictator does not allow freedom of speech. Where he is committing this type of genocide, this type of war crime purposefully. And, frankly speaking, there is no rule of law there, and businesses know that. 

Natalie says that staying in Russia is a short-form view on profitability for the business. Longer-term: those companies that remain in Russia will have trouble attracting talents. Young people do not want to work for companies that operate valuelessly. They will have trouble attracting finances. Because the sanctions are complex, and it will be impossible for them to work. In the short term, they are gaining. In the long term the reputation is at the stake.