The most sanctioned country on earth unveiled
The thousands of sanctions introduced against Russia since 2014 over the crisis in Ukraine by the United States and its allies have put the country at the top of the most targeted nations list. Russia has officially become the most sanctioned country in the world, surpassing Iran, Syria and North Korea. The penalties include punishments against individuals, companies, confiscation of assets, and even the freezing of the country’s foreign currency reserves. So, which are the most-sanctioned nations? Let’s take a look.
Moscow says it is now subject to more than 6,000 different targeted restrictions. That is more than Iran, Venezuela, Myanmar and Cuba combined. European nations, historically more wary of imposing sanctions, have led the way, even surpassing the US in some cases. Russia is now the single largest target of global sanctions, according to some economists. The crippling economic measures which have targeted Iran in the last 10 years have been implemented in the course of 10 days against Russia, said former US Treasury Department official Peter Piatetsky, who called it “a financial nuclear war and the largest sanctions event in history.” The punitive measures rolled out so far target Russia’s financial sector, central bank reserves, energy supplies, major companies, President Vladimir Putin, his daughters, government officials, and other individuals. The US and EU say that even more sanctions will follow.
Once the world’s most sanctioned country, Iran has been in Washington’s crosshairs since 1979. Tehran has confronted 3,616 punitive measures against it over the last decade alone, data by the global sanctions-tracking database Castellum shows. The penalties have been imposed mainly over the country’s controversial nuclear program. In 2018, the Islamic Republic’s banks were cut off from the SWIFT payment system. In 2020, Washington levied more penalties against Iranian banks. Nevertheless, the country’s economy grew 2.4% in 2020-21, according to the World Bank, and is forecast to rise 3.1% in 2021-22.
The war-torn country which had been fighting international terrorism since 2011 has been hit by a number of economic sanctions from the US, EU and some Arab states. Most of them imposed after 2011. According to Castellum list, Syria has 2,608 sanctions against it. Syria’s President Bashar Assad blasted the restrictions as “inhuman” and “illegal.”
- North Korea
The hermit Asian state has been under UN sanctions since 2006 over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The penalties included punishments against individuals and companies. The Castellum list shows that North Korea had 2,077 sanctions against it as of March. This month the United States imposed fresh sanctions on North Korea, accusing it of developing weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.
The economy of the Bolivarian Republic has been under severe pressure over the past years, with the situation severely deteriorating after the US slapped the country with sanctions in 2019. The measures targeted businesses and oil entities associated with the government of Nicolas Maduro, both inside and outside of the country. The current penalties put Venezuela in fifth place in the global rating of the most sanctioned nations. The South American country has 651 sanctions against it, according to Castellum.
The Southeast Asian nation has faced sanctions by the United States and other countries over human rights violations. In January, the one-year anniversary of the military coup of Myanmar’s democratically elected government, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated seven individuals and two entities connected to the military regime. Castellum data shows that Myanmar had 510 sanctions against it. However, the list seems to have been broadened since the United States, the UK and Canada imposed coordinated new sanctions on the country last month, focusing on senior military officials.
The largest Caribbean island-nation, Cuba, is the last country on the list with 208 sanctions. Cuba has been under US sanctions for more than 60 years, which have affected every aspect of life on the island. The penalties placed by US President John F. Kennedy in 1962 are aimed at isolating the country until it moves towards ‘democratization and greater respect for human rights.’ Washington has been systematically ramping up punitive measures, while companies and foreign banks operating in Cuba have faced harsh penalties for doing business there. The American sanctions regime against Cuba is one of the world’s longest-running boycotts by one country against another. The island nation which imports 80% of what it consumes has called the six-decade old trade ban a “blockade.”
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