No 11, Issue 1       



Normative Statecraft: The EU Sanctions Policy On Russia’s Annexation Of Crimea


Pages: 5-20




The instruments of economic statecraft have been utilized increasingly in the face of geopolitical challenges. The EU’s response to the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 was to impose sanctions. This paper analyses the EU as a normative sanctioning power in the context of the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 until the start of the Russia-Ukraine War on February 24, 2022. In its Global Strategy, the EU mentioned sanctions as a credible tool in the Union’s foreign policy mix. Following David A. Baldwin’s economic statecraft conceptualization, this article argues that, in various contingencies, economic statecraft might constitute a credible option, especially if the potential perils of military statecraft in a nuclear world are considered. The EU sanctions after the annexation of Crimea functioned at least for two purposes: first, the EU successfully conveyed its messages to Russia and the wider international community that what Russia committed was not approved. Although this message could be conveyed verbally diplomatically, as done by many international actors, the EU’s message was supported with relatively credible instruments compared to ineffective verbal declarations. Secondly, the EU committed itself through the sanctions on the Ukrainian cause. Thus, this paper argues that although economic statecraft cannot be considered a cure for all the vagaries of geopolitical challenges, it has proved to be an essential part of the policy mix of a containment strategy upon the annexation of Crimea.


Economic statecraft, EU sanctions, EU Global Strategy, great power rivalry, Crimea



Baldwin, D. A. (1985). Economic statecraft. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Baldwin, D. A. (2020). Economic statecraft (New Edition). Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

CEU. (2019a). ‘Working Party of Foreign Relations Counsellors (RELEX).’ https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/council-eu/preparatory-bodies/working-party-foreign-relations-counsellors/. Accessed 7 August 2022.

CEU. (2019b). ‘Monitoring and evaluation of restrictive measures (sanctions) in the framework of CFSP.’ http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-5603-2004-INIT/en/pdf. Accessed 7 August 2022.

CEU. (2019c). ‘Political and Security Committee (PSC).’ https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/council-eu/preparatory-bodies/political-security-committee/. Accessed 7 August 2022.

CEU. (2019d). ‘Coreper II.’ https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/council-eu/preparatory-bodies/coreper-ii/. Accessed 7 August 2022.

CEU. (2019e). ‘Adoption and review procedure for EU sanctions.’ https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/sanctions/adoption-review-procedure/. Accessed 7 August 2022.

CEU. (2019f). ‘EU restrictive measures in response to the crisis in Ukraine.’ https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/sanctions/ukraine-crisis/. Accessed 7 August 2022.

CEU. (2022g). ‘Timeline – EU restrictive measures against Russia over Ukraine’. https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/sanctions/restrictive-measures-against-russia-over-ukraine/history-restrictive-measures-against-russia-over-ukraine/. Accessed 7 August 2022.

Christie, E.H. (2015, July 13).  Sanctions after Crimea: Have they worked? NATO Review. https://www.nato.int/docu/review/articles/2015/07/13/sanctions-after-crimea-have-they-worked/index.html. Accessed 7 August 2022.

CNBC. (2019, January 8). ‘Europe is fast-becoming a natural gas battleground for Russia and the US.’ https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/08/russia-and-the-us-battling-over-europes-gas-market.html. Accessed 7 August 2022.

EU (2016). Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe. A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy.   https://www.eeas.europa.eu/sites/default/files/eugs_review_web_0.pdf. Accessed 7 August 2022.

EUP. (2018). ‘EU sanctions: A key foreign and security policy instrument.’ https://shorturl.at/mFIU2 . Accessed 7 August 2022.

Fortune. (2018, Sep 5). ‘Russia’s Controversial Nord Stream 2 Pipeline May Now Be Unstoppable.’ https://www.forbes.com/sites/davekeating/2018/09/05/as-of-today-russias-controversial-nord-stream-2-pipeline-is-already-underwater/#3dd0702a1e1c. Accessed 7 August 2022.

Giulan, R. (2016). European Union-Russia relations after the annexation of Crimea: Confirmation of Neorealism? Master Thesis, Development and International Relations, Aalborg University, Denmark. https://shorturl.at/ilQT7. Accessed 7 August 2022.

Giumelli, F. (2013). ‘How EU sanctions work: a new narrative.’ Chaillot Paper Nº 129 by EU Institute for Security Studies (Paris). https://shorturl.at/qCDGL. Accessed 7 August 2022.

Giumelli, F. (2017). The redistributive impact of restrictive measures on EU members: Winners and losers from imposing sanctions on Russia. JCMS: journal of common market studies55(5), 1062-1080. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcms.12548. Accessed 7 August 2022.

Guardian, The. (2014, March 17). ‘EU and US impose sanctions on Russian and Ukrainian officials.’ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/17/eu-imposes-sanctions-21-russian-ukrainian-officials-crimea. Accessed 7 August 2022.

Guardian, The. (2018, May 25). ‘MH17: Australia and Netherlands accuse Russia of complicity.’ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/25/mh17-australia-and-netherlands-accuse-russia-of-complicity. Accessed 7 August 2022.

Kern, A. (2009). Economic sanctions: law and public policy. Berlin: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230227286.

Milward, A.S. (2000). The European Rescue of the Nation State. Routledge: London and New York. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203982150.

Moravcsik, A. (2009). Europe: The Quiet Superpower. French Politics Volume 7, No. 3/4 (September-December 2009), pp. 403-422. https://doi.org/10.1057/fp.2009.29.

Orenstein, M.A., and Kelemen, R.D. (2017). Trojan horses in EU foreign policy. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies. 55.1, 87-102. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcms.12441.

Pollack, M.A. (2016). ‘Living in a Material World: A Critique of ‘Normative Power Europe.’ in Zimmermann, H. and Dür, A., (eds.), Key Controversies in European Integration. London: Palgrave. http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1623002.

Winn, N. (2018). Between soft power, neo-Westphalianism and transnationalism: the European Union,(trans) national interests and the politics of strategy. International Politics (2018): 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41311-017-0126-9.




Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.