Russia Sues EU Over Sanctions on Gazprom Funding

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 10/17/2014 01:00:00 AM
Hot on the heels of Russia intervening in the currency markets to no real effect, we receive word that it is using legal maneuvers to resume being able to obtain financing from Western capital markets which have been closed to the country ever since a new round of sanctions were implemented by the European Council (the "upper house" of European Parliament composed of EU heads of state) in the wake of the downing of the Malaysian Airlines jetliner. The troubles in Ukraine continue to roil, especially if the Russian state-owned enterprises are unable to roll over their debts coming due at the end of next year:
The EU bans, with similar measures adopted by the US, have all but frozen Russian companies and banks out of western capital markets, at a time when they have to refinance more than $130bn of foreign debt due for redemption by the end of 2015. Rosneft filed a case against the EU’s European Council in the general court under the European Court of Justice on October 9, requesting an annulment of the council’s July 31 decision that largely barred it and other Russian energy companies and state banks from raising funds on European capital markets.
Russia is counting on the precedent of ECJ rulings that have rolled back sanctions against the likes of Iran and Syria. That said, those countries hardly have become welcome participants in European capital markets--not by a long shot. In this vein I'd say it's more like a speculative ploy to obtain some breathing room as Russian finances get shot:
The challenges follow verdicts that have gone against the council in relation to similar measures imposed on Iran and Syria. In particular, the court has ruled that in implementing sanctions, European states have been too reliant on confidential sources, which impair the targets’ ability to mount an effective defence.
Rosneft seeks to "liberate" a grab bag of crony capitalists, mostly state-owned banks that provide it with working capital:
Rosneft’s request was filed on behalf of the company itself and other unidentified parties.
The capital markets sanctions that the company wants overturned also affect Russia’s biggest state lenders Sberbank, VTB, VEB, Gazprombank and Rosselkhozbank, as well as Gazpromneft, the oil arm of the state gas monopoly, and Transneft, the state-owned pipeline monopoly. Rosneft, Rosselkhozbank and Sberbank declined to comment. VTB said it had not made a final decision with regard to legal action over the sanctions. “We are carefully studying this issue and taking legal advice,” the bank said.
As the song goes, Russia has now sent the lawyers in after dabbling with guns (military adventurism in Ukraine) and money (feebly trying to staunch ruble devaluation). I guess these self-styled tough guys who can "stick it to the West" are not as badass as they portray themselves to be, having withdrawn massed forces on Ukraine's border and now resorting to legal chicanery in the interest of economic survival.

As I said earlier, it turns out that the West has Russia by the balls and not the other way around as energy prices drop precipitously. $400+ billion in reserves can go quite quickly when your burn rate is as phenomenal as Russia's at the moment.