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memri
August 4, 2017 No.
7040

Russia Reacts To The New Round Of U.S. Sanctions – Part II

Below is a selection of official Russian reactions to the new round of U.S. sanctions targeting Russia:[1]

Senator Dzhabarov: If the EU Adopts The U.S. Sanctions, Russia Will Retaliate

On July 27, the U.S. Congress passed a bill imposing new sanctions on Russia.[2] The Russian news agency Tass reported that European countries are concerned by the fact that the U.S. bill specifically mentions the Nord Stream-2 project gas pipeline. Tass reported: "The document says that the U.S government should push ahead with its efforts to counter the construction of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline. It asserts that the project has a harmful effect on the European Union’s energy security, the development of the gas market of the Central and Eastern Europe and energy reforms in Ukraine. The bill also states that the U.S. government should prioritize exports of U.S. energy resources to Europe to create jobs in its economy." Russia hopes to exploit differences between the Europeans and the United States.

Vladimir Dzhabarov, the first deputy chairman of the Russian Federation Council's Foreign Affairs Committee: "If the EU adopt the American sanctions, the Russian response will hurt not only the Americans, but the EU as well."

(Ria.ru, July 27, 2017)

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Vladimir Dzhabarov (Source: Ria.ru)

Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvieynko: "The sanctions express the desire in Washington to displace Russian energy suppliers from the European markets". According to Matvieynko, the U.S. sanctions do not work to Europe's advantage, since Russian energy resources are cheaper and Russia is a trustworthy supplier.

(Ria.ru, July 24, 2017)

Russian legislator Leonid Slutsky, the head of the State Duma's international affairs committee: "The EU is swinging towards doubting whether it should automatically support the toughening of the sanctions. [They began considering] what actually lies behind those [U.S.] decisions?"

(Ria.ru, July 24, 2017)

Former Russian Finance Minister: Sanctions' Damage May Constitute 0.5% Of GDP In The First Year After Introduction

Russian newspaper Vedomosti quotde Aleksey Kudrin, former Russian Finance Minister and deputy head of Presidential economic council: "The preexistent hope that the western sanctions against Russia would be lifted in the coming years has diminished. We probably will find ourselves in the same story as the Jackson–Vanik bill [of 1974]– even when the circumstances for that legislation changed, it was impossible for a long time to abolish the bill... I do see sanctions affecting us: Russia will face difficulties in foreign markets when deep political mistrust exists between the states." By Kudrin's estimate the sanctions' damage may constitute 0.5 % of GDP in the first year following their introduction.

(Vedomosti.ru, July 27, 2017)

Kudrin
Aleksey Kudrin (Source: Svpressa.ru)

Alexei Arbatov, director of the Center of International Security at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations in Moscow said that Russia cannot afford a full scale sanctions war with the U.S. due to its economic situation ( Russia's economy constitutes 2.2% of the world's GDP)."In a situation where the sanctions bit in the most painful place for Russia – the export of oil and gas its main response should be developing and reforming its own economy...If we start competing in exerting 'painful measures,' we'll get hurt more in the end result. In this context our retaliatory measures have the potential to 'freeze off our own ears' [Russian idiom equivalent to cutting your nose to spite your face]," said Arbatov.

(Kommersant.ru, July 27, 2017)

Political Expert Sidorov: The Sanctions Bill Will Inevitably Bring Us To The Cold War

The chair of Moscow State University’s Department for International Organizations and World Political Processes Andrey Sidorov said: "Until this time, the Russian leadership tried not to respond to the challenges thrown down first by the Obama administration and then retained by the Trump administration... Trump has failed to repair the ties. The sanctions bill will, most probably, be approved, which will inevitably bring us to the Cold War... Russia hoped that Trump would try to fulfill his promises, but he didn’t do that and can’t do that, so the public opinion will demand that we retaliate and hold ground... It is necessary to draw up a set of measures that will have minimal effect over our economy, but will be painful for the American one."

Sidorov also added that Russia should establish strong relations with EU countries in order to "build up a certain line of policy in relations with the US, so that it could continue developing projects, but be less subject to sanctions." His painful overall conclusion was that "we are in for an economic war".

(Tass.com, July 27, 2017)

Dmitry Suslov, Program Director for the Valdai Discussion Club said: "These sanctions institutionalize the Russian-American confrontation, the Cold war. The possibility of lifting these sanctions will appear only in two cases: first - collapse of Russia, second - the fundamental revision of the United States' foreign policy and the final rejection of claims for global leadership, neither of which is impossible in the foreseeable future. That's why we are doomed to confrontation for a very long time... Russia needs to adjust its state arms program, reflecting the inevitable military-political confrontation with the U.S. There must be investments in strategic deterrence, in maintaining the system of guaranteed mutual destruction."

(Valdaiclub.com, July 28, 2017)

Kommersant Columnist Strokan: The Bill Assigns Trump The Role Of Spectator

Kommersant International affairs columnist Sergey Strokan wrote in his column: "When it comes to America, then it's already unimportant where and when Donald Trump will meet Vladimir Putin again, how many minutes the meeting lasts and whether the meeting takes place in some new 'Hamburg' or on the White House lawn. It is also unimportant what Trump will write in his twitter about Russia – what difference does it make anyway? The Congressional bill assigns the president the role of spectator– the future of Russia-U.S. relations is no longer dependent upon him. Generally speaking, Trump's political fate has no meaning for Moscow anymore: whether he is threatened with impeachment or not... The general vector of the U.S. policy is set – and this will so for a long time."

(Kommersant.ru, July 25, 2017)

Political Expert Sushentsov: 'The Anti-Russia Sanctions Are Not Part Of A Strategy But Rather The Lack Of One'

Program director at the Valdai Discussion Club Andrey Sushentsov wrote that the anti-Russian sanctions shows that Trump has been "paralyzed" and that he is "completely powerless". He also stressed that it is unclear what "it can discuss with Moscow now, or how it can encourage Russia’s cooperation on issues of concern to the United States." Sushentsov then added that "an antagonized Russia will work for closer rapprochement with China on all issues."

The following are excerpts from his article, titled "Strategic Consequences Of U.S. Anti-Russia Sanctions":

"The anti-Russia sanctions are not part of a strategy but rather the lack of one. They are the product of the most disorganized U.S. political process in decades. President Donald Trump has lost the initiative, has not stopped the loss of morale among his aides and supporters, and has antagonized the press and his opponents in Congress. He has been paralyzed and is almost completely powerless.

"The sanctions are mainly the result of political infighting in the United States. When Trump won the election, his opponents began pressing for impeachment and are using the alleged 'collusion with Russia' (tax avoidance, abuse of power, or the harassment of women – pick one) as a strategy to remove him from office.

"In the six months since the scandal over Russia erupted, not a single hard fact to implicate Trump’s collusion with Russia has been revealed. The ongoing anti-Russia campaign rests on allusion, paranoia and virtual reality. At some point, this campaign took on a life of its own as can be seen from CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s statements on Russia as one of the biggest threats to the United States.

"This is evidence of plummeting common sense and inaccurate assessment by officials in key positions. It concerns more than just Russia’s alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election. U.S. intelligence services have attributed – with 'a high degree of probability' – the blame for the chemical attack in Syria in April this year to the Syrian government. The top event this week was the scandal over alleged Russian arms deliveries to the Taliban in Afghanistan. In May, Russia was accused of hacking Qatar’s government websites, which allegedly provoked a crisis. Many people say that all of these events were orchestrated. But I would blame amateurism and paranoia, considering the unprofessionalism of key officials in U.S. diplomatic and security bodies. By the way, an iceberg the size of Latvia has broken away from Antarctica. It must be Russia’s doing, right?

"Washington’s current Russia policy is not a strategy as much as it is acting on autopilot. U.S. actions can too often be described 'act first, think later.' We have seen it in live news shows. The U.S. media are not writing about the possible international consequences of the anti-Russia sanctions. They only write about Congress’s annoyance at the alleged Russian interference and the dubious nature of Nord Stream 2. The media are acting; they will think about the consequences later, probably next week.

'An Antagonized Russia Will Work For Closer Rapprochement With China'

"We can help our American colleagues assess the potential strategic consequences of their latest moves.

"First, the United States is again acting not so much as a global leader but as an egotist who gives little thought to its closest allies’ interests. The penalties for many German industries have almost become part of U.S. policy. The European Commission has openly expressed its disappointment at unilateral U.S. actions and has said that it would respond if Europe’s interests are damaged.

"Second, the sanctions regime will be further undermined by the disregard for the principle of consensus in EU-U.S. relations. Washington has refused to coordinate its actions with Brussels and has even imposed painful restrictions on it. This will give Russia new opportunities in relations with the key European countries that will be affected by US anti-Russia sanctions.

"Third, the United States has actually hamstrung itself. It is unclear what it can discuss with Moscow now, or how it can encourage Russia’s cooperation on issues of concern to the United States.

"Fourth, an antagonized Russia will work for closer rapprochement with China on all issues, including security. Russia and China have held joint exercises in the South China Sea and the Baltic, and we can easily imagine them holding military drills in the Straits of Florida near Cuba. I don’t think this would be in the United States’ long-term interests.

"And lastly, political stratification will increase in the United States. Knowing Donald Trump, we can assume that he won’t let things slide. He will find a way to strike back at Congress. This will provoke a new round in the political crisis in the United States, but this is not Russia’s concern.

Trump has not made effective defense plans for the eventuality of political infighting. He has lost the initiative to his opponents. Despite a good personal relationship between the Russian and U.S. leaders, Donald Trump is losing his relevance in Russian-US relations.

"So, Russia will respond to the latest sanctions. This response should be strong symbolically, but it must not fetter Russia or run too far afield from potential allies in Europe and Asia, primarily Germany and Japan.

Trump’s election victory has resulted in a long period of uncertainty in Russian-U.S. relations. Clinton’s victory, which seemed to be more probable throughout the presidential race, would not have done this. If she had won, Russian-U.S. relations would have soured immediately. There is still no hope for normalization in our bilateral relations now, but there is no uncertainty either. Russian-U.S. relations have again become clear, which allows us to make plans for the future, and making plans is a key condition for a cohesive foreign policy."

(Valdaiclub.com, July 28, 2017)

Political Expert Fenenko: 'American Culture Is The Culture Of The Colt Pistol'

Aleksey Fenenko, associate professor at the Faculty of World Politics of the Moscow State University: "American culture is the culture of the Colt pistol. If you don't retaliate, you are a wimp... It's not necessary to retaliate economically. Russia may set 'intolerable' price-tag: for every new sanction – one less international disarmament treaty. For example, there is treaty regarding a comprehensive nuclear test ban. It created an international system for monitoring nuclear explosions. The Americans invested billions of dollars in this system [of monitoring]. Just imagine that Russia announces tomorrow that it is quitting this treaty and halts any cooperation with the U.S. in this sphere. All the billions in U.S. expenditures vanish into space. Besides, Russia may stop supplying to the U.S. its low enriched uranium, which is fed into one third of U.S. electrical plants or close its airspace completely to NATO's cargo planes bound for Afghanistan".

(Ria.ru, July 28, 2017)


Aleksey Fenenko (Source: Picread.ru)

 

 

[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7032, Russia's Reactions To The New Round Of U.S. Sanctions – Part I, July 31, 2017.

[2] Tass.com, July 26, 2017.