Sanctions on Russia : glimpse of history

Sanctions imposed on Russia for so called “breach of international traditions and aggressive actions against other state, who should be protected by the international community”.

Sanctions include:

– ban on delivery of weapons, military production and some kind of important foodstuffs to Russia

– ban on participation of foreigners in projects for development of new industries

– exterritoriality of sanctions (the above bans relate to everybody and not only to the countries imposing them)

Are we talking about year 2014? or 2020? NO – we are talking about 1560 (!)

downloaded from wikipedia

The story looks as follows. All this fuss was about Livonian Confederation, which existed for 1,5 centuries in the Eastern Baltic and represented a strange symbiosis of Livonian Order, several Bishoprics, cities. Previous decades were filled with constant skirmishes between different parties and different countries involved. At some moment developing Russia (at this time ruled by Ivan IV, known as the Terrible) seized a town-stronghold Narva, which had special importance for trade routes in the Eastern Baltic. It caused fears about possible growing participation of Russia in the Baltic trade. Despite the fact that during recent decades different towns were constantly passing from hands to hands, at this very moment Russia turned out to be the main threat of Europe to be stopped by the efforts of all the civilized world. The sanctions were put in force by Ferdinand (Holy Roman Emperor and King of Boheima and several other lands), and approved by the Speyer meeting (a kind of representative body). With more or less success the above sanctions were in force for several years. SO. What were the great results of them?

  1. Instead of preventing a conflict, the sanctions fueled the war of everybody against everybody, which lasted for several years.
  2. The worst results of the war were for the country which they were supposed to protect, i.e. Livonian Confederation. Ironically, the country was torn apart and seized not by Russia, but by those very states who advocated the sanctions, including Poland with Lithuania (they formed a joint state Rzeczpospolita, who dominated the region for decades and half a century later almost seized Russia) as well as Sweden and Denmark. Livonian Confederation disappeared from the map with no chance to appear there again. You can read more about Livonian war in wikipedia
  3. The results for Russia were not encouraging either. Russian managed to keep only the stronghold of Narva without any chance to keep the rest of the lands. Honestly speaking, this was mostly due not to the sanctions, but to constant fight between Ivan IV and top nobility, as well as fatal mistakes in governing the country in the second half of his rule and constant threat of war in the South.
  4. As it often happens, bystanders got advantages of the situation: British and Dutch merchants managed to increase dramatically their influence on Baltic trade. At the same time, Hanseatic Leage (union of main trading cities) finally lost it’s importance and never got it back.

To make long story short, I am not going to investigate who was right and who was wrong in the conflict. It seems, that each party has got tons of arguments pro and con. But it seems obvious that sanctions give negative results for involved (party imposing sanctions, party on which sanctions are imposed and party which is the reason of the sanctions) At the same time they give most privileges for not involved, who take the advantage of the situation to strengthen their position.

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