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Western countries have no consensus on sanctions against Russia — Japanese expert

Masahiro Matsumura noted that so far the sanctions have not been as effective as the Western countries had hoped, but will be effective in the medium and long term

KARUIZAWA, April 17. /TASS/. The Western countries have consistently campaigned for maintaining restrictive measures against Russia and continuing to support for Ukraine, but there is no consensus among them as to what is to be done about the sanctions in the future, Professor Kazuto Suzuki, of the University of Tokyo and a Tokyo Foundation expert, told TASS ahead of a meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture.

"I don't know if there is any plan for additional sanctions. I think there is no consensus on what to do with sanctions," he said. Some observers have noted what they described as sanctions fatigue in a number of European countries. In particular, Professor Masahiro Matsumura, of Momoyama Gakuin University, told TASS that "Europe has considerable fatigue with sanctions, but cannot help continuing them as long as US hegemony persists."

At the same time, Suzuki believes that a majority in the Western countries are still in favor of supporting Ukraine.

"Although some right-wing parties claim to pay more attention to their own people than Ukrainians, the majority of the public in most of Western countries remains committed to supporting Ukraine," he said.

Sanctions partially effective

As for the effectiveness of restrictive measures against Russia, Suzuki said most effective were the sanctions against the supply of high-tech materials to Russia.

"The effectiveness can only be measured by the purpose of sanctions. In this regard, the sanctions against Russia are partially effective because they aim at increasing the cost of war and making it difficult to continue supplying arms. The sanctions on high-tech materials are the most effective in this case," he said.

Matsumura, in turn, noted that so far the sanctions have not been as effective as the Western countries had hoped, but will be effective in the medium and long term.

"The sanctions [against Russia] are not as effective as expected in the short term, but they will surely be highly effective over a medium to long run in debilitating Russia and putting it on China's orbit," he speculates.

No effective Japanese sanctions due as trade with Russia is limited

As for Japan, Matsumura does not expect a serious tightening of sanctions by Tokyo, which has not taken effective economic measures against Russia yet, for the simple reason Japan has no leverage due to limited trade with Russia.

"Japan is not taking any effective moves in economic sanctions against Russia. It has merely underscored its righteous positions," he said. "From the beginning, Japan has not imposed significant sanctions against Russia simply because bilateral trade is limited, while retaining oil and gas trade with it," Matsumura explained.

Japan joined the other G7 countries in implementing a $60 per barrel price cap on Russian oil. But it has made an exception for supplies from Sakhalin-2, the main product of which is liquefied natural gas (LNG). The oil supplies are pegged to gas contracts. Japan receives about 9% of its total LNG imports from Sakhalin-2. Russian gas accounts for about 3% of its total power generation. Tokyo has repeatedly stressed its intention to continue to participate in oil and gas projects in Sakhalin, as they are important in terms of energy security.

Japan is chairing the G7 in 2023 and will hold a G7 summit in Hiroshima, the city that was bombed by the United States on August 6, 1945. The importance of cooperation with the Global South is one of the issues on the agenda of the Japanese presidency.