“Should we wage an” economic war “against Russia? “

FIGAROVOX / TRIBUNE- “We intend to wage a complete economic and financial war against Russia,” Bruno Le Mer declared at France Amfo on March 1 before returning to his remarks. For lawyer Olivier de Maison Rouge, we must pay attention to the use of economic weapons.

Olivier de Maison Rouge is a Ph.D. in Law, Deputy Lawyer (Lex Squared) and a member of the French Economic Information Observatory (OIEF). His latest publications are: Win the economic war (VA Edition, March 2022).


Russia’s armed assault on Ukraine has witnessed a serious intensity that has rarely been recorded in recent decades, especially since it hit the soil of Europe directly.

Armed conflict inevitably casts doubt on legal scholars. This is because, contrary to common belief, a partially codified law of war does not only actually exist, but is also the result of its use.

In this case, the President of Russia justifies his intervention under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations. Any provision of this Charter undermines the right of individual or group self-defense if a UN member state is subject to an armed attack until the Security Council has taken the necessary steps to maintain international peace and security. Not. (…)

In doing so, Vladimir Putin, according to the interpretation of the text, was that the 2014 Minsk Agreement (which was the first provisional solution to the Ukraine problem) was deliberately violated by Ukraine on the one hand, and it was on the one hand. , In February 2022, deliberately hostile acts against areas currently considered by the Russians to be autonomous regions (especially Putin). Therefore, Russia would only come to aid the territory that would have demanded the protection of Russian troops.

Everything is a matter of subject matter. Finally Military success is often determined after Applicable law. Vae victis.. History has not yet been written to this day, even though it is clear that Russia has already permanently lost the international authority it has been trying to recover for 25 years.

New in the context of this conflict, to say the least, has been announced “Economic war”..

France failed to engage in the military and announced in the voice of Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Mer that he would like to contribute. “Collapse of Russian economy” By delivering “Economic and financial war” (France information, 1er March 2022). Dmitry Medvedev, vice president of the Security Council of Russia, hurriedly replied that the statement could be openly interpreted as a declaration of war, forcing French authorities to withdraw immediately.

The West has slammed the attacks on Ukraine that make up the attacks on its territorial integrity, but the countries of the Atlantic Alliance (NATO) have not so far intended to wage a head-on war against Russian troops.

Olivier de Maison Rouge

Media enthusiasm has created the dangerous potential of a full-scale war that would have been insane.

Nonetheless, this has slammed the attacks on Ukraine, which constitutes an attack on the integrity of its territory, while the countries of the Atlantic Alliance (NATO) have, to this day, faced the Russian army. It shows that we are not going to start the war from.

Meanwhile, the master of the matter over the past few decades, the United States has not failed to initiate economic sanctions aimed at influencing Slavic fighters (Russia, Belarus, Chechnya), and even more war. I want to influence the possibilities. This result shows that the war is like Janus and can change faces. Therefore, it shows a particularly hybrid nature in which Russians use aspects of cyberwarfare to support the military.

Therefore, this conflict is by no means strictly customary.

“”The economy is essentially a balance of power. Indeed, it takes the form of collaboration and voluntary exchange. Of course, it enables peace. But basically, Michel Foucault’s politics is “continuation of war by other means.” Olivier Vava’u[1]

Economic warfare should not be confused with economic warfare by armed means, such as the destruction or sabotage of armed factories, communication routes, airport sites, supplies, telecommunications means, cyber infrastructure, etc. These actions are similar to total war.[2].. The war with the economy is to neutralize the enemy’s production and transportation capacity.

Nor is economic warfare an economic war that anti-globalists wage in their desire to annihilate all forms of capitalism. If economic warfare does not thwart the question of the economic model, it has nothing to do with capitalist haters, except to condemn its abuse.

Olivier de Maison Rouge

Nor is economic warfare an economic war that anti-globalists wage in their desire to annihilate all forms of capitalism. If economic warfare does not thwart the question of the economic model, it has nothing to do with capitalist haters, except to condemn its abuse.

Finally, it is not the wartime economy, the industrial effort of weapons companies to supply weapons to military equipment.

In reality, economic warfare prospers accurately in times of peace, constitutes geo-economic conflicts of the great powers, and cannot employ armed means.

Therefore, an essential reliance on indirect and / or asymmetric strategies, including law, taxation, technology, environmental standards, etc. It is a conflict of will in the economic arena, creating a relationship between the strong and the weak without prior declaration of war. The ban on Russian banks from the Swift electronic payment platform shows this. There are also freezes on financial assets and embargoes on weapons and dual-use products.

Academic Frederick Munier said: “Economic warfare can be defined, in a strict sense, as a modality of war, first of all. It is part of the context of conflict between nations in the form of behavior of economic violence. , Boycott, allocation measures are especially examples. Economic weapons are used in political projects and most often in weakening targets. (…) This economic war is similar to war through the economy. “[3]

For Pascal Bonifus “Economic warfare can be defined by mobilizing all the economic means of a nation against other nations to improve their power or the standard of living of their inhabitants.”[4]..

So can we think of the economic warfare that actually constitutes the characteristic conflict as a conflict of the traditional nature that is likely to be part of an armed conflict?

It should be remembered that international treaties and agreements do not specify weapons or processes specific to war. The law excludes or regulates some of them: nuclear, chemistry, bacteriology. The use of cyberweapons – offensive or defensive – has become an integral part of the modern military.

Therefore, international law of war does not follow the strict classification of weapons.

On the other hand, to return to the Charter of the United Nations, it is explicitly provided for graduation on the scale of sanctions that may be imposed on warm countries. In this regard, Article 41 provides that the Security Council may decide on various measures without the use of the military. “These may include complete or partial interruptions in economic and rail, maritime, aviation, mail, telegraph, wireless electricity and other means of communication, as well as disconnection of diplomatic relations.”.. You can rely on the army to restore peace only after you have exhausted these actions that would not have been fruitful. this is, “Economic war” Strictly speaking, it applies upstream of the use of weapons when the war has not yet taken place.

In this regard, Jean-Vincent Holleinther declares: “International law of war does not prohibit killings, but it does regulate the use of power. In my view, the economy is closer to peace than war.”[5]..

Be careful not to use economic weapons indiscriminately. It still only emphasizes very local conflicts and support peace and security.

Olivier de Maison Rouge

However, it should be remembered that economic warfare measures such as those stated by Bruno Le Mer are very often applied during the war to weaken and detain the enemy. Therefore, economic warfare applies in the same way during conflicts and is integrated into total war, exactly as Dmitry Medvedev envisioned.

In this sense, the German legal scholar Carl Schmitt expressed himself at the dawn of World War II. “Therefore, the transition to full-scale warfare lies solely in the fact that the non-military sectors of human activity (economics, propaganda, the spiritual and moral energy of non-combatants) are engaged in the fight against the enemy. Beyond military plans, it involves not only quantitative expansion, but also qualitative promotion, which is why it strengthens rather than diminishes hostility.[6]..

Therefore, be careful not to use economic weapons indiscriminately. It still only emphasizes very local conflicts and supports peace and security.


[1] BABEAUOlivier, New digital turmoilBuchet Chastel, 2020

[2] look Jean Tannery 1878-1939, the origin of economic warfareMichaelël BOURLET, “World Wars and Contemporary Conflicts”, 2004/2, n ° 214

[3] MUNIER Frederick, Economic war. Antios Report 2010PUF, 2009

[4] BONIFACE Pascal, Tomorrow’s War, Seuil, 2001

[5] HOLEINDRE Jean-Vincent, Cunning and strengthPerrin, 2017

[6] Political Concept, Result II: The Concept of War and the Relationship with the Enemy (1938)

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