Washington is in discussion with several Western partners about ending trade with Russia outright. The debate is occurring as the US-led economic war on Moscow has failed to halt its military action in Ukraine.
According to Bloomberg News, the Group of 7 (G7) is considering banning exports to Russia, with member states – the US, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the European Union – debating the issue ahead of an international summit in May.
While Western trade with Russia has taken a major hit since the invasion of Ukraine last year, several G7 members have maintained significant exports despite Washington’s campaign to isolate Moscow with sanctions. According to Trade Data Monitor, a cumulative $66 billion in goods have flowed to Russia from member states over the last year.
The proposed ban will essentially overhaul the way Washington outlaws trade with Russia. Currently, the US and its allies blacklist particular Russian products, companies and individuals, barring Americans from business transactions with the targeted entities. If adopted, the export ban will prohibit all trade with Moscow that is not explicitly exempted from Western sanctions.
While a source cited by the Miami Herald said food and medicine would likely be on the exemption list, international aid organizations argue the system would be ineffective and that sanctions largely stomp out the trade of key civilian goods.
A full-on export ban still has serious obstacles to overcome before the May G7 summit. All EU members will have to agree for the bloc to sign on, and the ban could threaten the grain export deal that Turkey and the UN brokered with Russia and Ukraine last year. According to the EU, since the agreement was implemented, 23 million tonnes of food products have left Kiev’s Black Sea ports.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine 14 months ago, the White House has unleashed wave after wave of sanctions targeting Moscow, believing they would act as the “economic equivalent of a nuclear weapon.“ While the Joe Biden administration hoped the rest of the world would join in on the trade war, after more than a year only close Western partners have followed Washington’s lead. This has allowed Moscow to weather the sanctions, as it turns to other major trading partners in the BRICS bloc and elsewhere – namely China and India.