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Tracing Russian Economic Assets – and Targets for More Sanctions

12:12 PM, Apr 2, 2014 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
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Along with energy and banking, wheat exports may be vulnerable to Russia’s adventurist policy in Crimea. The Financial Times declared dramatically on March 26, “Fear has taken hold of the wheat market. Prices have soared on the back of an investor buying spree spurred by the unfolding crisis in Ukraine.”

The FT predicted, “exports of Ukrainian wheat to Europe could increase sharply, which in turn would reduce demand for Russian wheat. Moscow in turn may seek to offer preferential terms for its wheat to secure customers as well as political ties. Such a change in trade flows could distort regional prices.”

European business leaders have balked at significant sanctions on Putin’s Russia. The examples above are a few indicators of the reach of Moscow’s post-Soviet economic expansion westward. But, overall, Russian investments abroad present a rich field for further restrictive measures, including boycotts and other non-governmental campaigns.

Sen. John McCain had it right when, in a Bloomberg interview on March 28, he condemned the “tepid . . . response by the Europeans [because of] incredibl[y] strong economic ties between Germany and these other countries,” and supported pressure for “at least suspension of [American] business, something . . . that would be a punishment” of, in his accurate words, the Russian “kleptocracy and autocracy.”

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