The US state Department promised that on 1 September, Washington will announce their next countermeasures against Russia in a seemingly endless war of sanctions between the two countries. If you are confused about the timeline “of military action”, here’s a brief synopsis: in July the Kremlin ordered that the American diplomatic corps in Russia decreased by 755 people, which represents approximately 2/3 of the entire state. This was Moscow’s response to the decision by President Barack Obama in December to reduce the number of Russian diplomats working in the USA for 35 people. Since the reduction of American diplomats exceeded the U.S. decline Russian diplomats more than 20 times, Washington promised in response to partially reduce the difference.
photo: Gennady Cherkasov
How? According to leaks in the American press, the US can close the Russian Consulate in Seattle, San Francisco or Houston. If it happens, it, in turn, can trigger the forced closure of the American Consulate in Ekaterinburg or Vladivostok.
Then USA might as well say: “Ah, so? Then we will reduce the limit on the issuance of U.S. visas to Russians by half, to 125 thousand a year.” This Russia may respond: “We also reduce the issuance of Russian visas for Americans by half, to 15 thousand a year.”
Who will win this war of sanctions — Russia or the United States? Answer: no one.
One of the main reasons why the us sanctions cannot “defeat” Russia, is that this impact on the country automatically is, according to the well-known formula Vyacheslav Volodin, the crackdown on “loved and kind Russian Tsar” — Vladimir Putin. But to give his offense the Pro-Putin Russian majority, of course, will not allow. In this sense, sanctions, paradoxically, even beneficial to Putin, as his nuclear electorate konsolidiruyutsya around their “beleaguered” leader. And these citizens, who make up more than 80 percent of the population (according to polls), firmly convinced that Russia must be something to respond to these “jerks and snickering the Americans”. After all, they are Russia (i.e. Putin) beat and belittle their long-reaching all “boorish” sanctions.
The problem is that Moscow can’t give tangible economic response to Washington for his approval, because the volume of the Russian economy is 10 times smaller than the economy of the United States. And anyway, what kind of Russian economic sanctions against the United States can be discussed in principle, when the Russian state, on the contrary, actively financed the American economy! CBR is one of the largest buyers of us government bonds in the enormous sum of $120 billion. Difficult for Russia to become simply “the Punisher”, while at the same time generous donor to the U.S. Treasury.
Therefore, Moscow may respond to Washington’s only political means — for example, the expulsion of diplomats. Yes, on the one hand, the Kremlin has partially reached its goal: the largest in the history of the forced reduction of American diplomats and staff touched US. But on the other hand, it is not hard hit by the “global domination” of America.
But still Russia has to respond: bullying and sabotage on the international stage! It is an old and proven technique of the Kremlin, and apply it especially tempting now, when President Donald trump, the administration of which so much is mired in many scandals. Russia could insert the new spoke in the American wheel all over the world. For example:
— Afghanistan: support of the Taliban against the us-led coalition;
— Libya: supporting the rebel government in Benghazi;
— in Syria: Subversion support for Pro-Iranian groups opposed to the United States;
North Korea: undermining the us sanctions with the sale of the country oil and attract an even larger number of North Koreans to work in Russia;
— undermining the US interests in the Persian Gulf, in Afghanistan and in Yemen.
In addition, Moscow could strengthen its military actions in the Donbas, Syria, and perhaps in some new places. It is necessary to show the world that Russia is not some kind of Iran being only a “regional power”, which caved in under us sanctions, when signed an agreement renouncing its nuclear weapons. On the contrary, Russia can show that it is, according to the Kremlin logic, totally inflexible and strong country that can intervene in the Affairs of other States, in the United States.
And Russia may make new attacks against the United States with a new subsequent rebuttal, which, they say, “we are innocent” “I not I, and not my hut”, and that all accusations against the Moscow “fake news” and “the machinations of Hillary”.
Kremlin logic insert these sticks in the American wheel is based on the “zero-sum game”: the worse for US, the better for Russia. If Moscow cannot win in the war of sanctions, then at least she would interfere and spoil US throughout the world, and sometimes even inside America itself.
Ukraine is a vivid example of such “Russian stick”. Because of the aggressive policy of the Kremlin towards Kiev Russia lost the Ukraine (outside the Donbass) for a long time. Ukraine decisively turned away from Russia and moves across the Western path of development. This turn to the West very hurt the Kremlin and Moscow gets a strong reputational damage. To “win” Ukraine to Russia already can not. Moscow is just to interfere with Kiev to develop and to enter the European institutions. One of the ways to weaken and undermine Ukraine is constantly to add fuel to the fire of war in the Donbas, providing military support to the separatists.
As for the confrontation with America, that if the flywheel tension in this war of sanctions will be promoted for one more rotation, it will be very difficult to stop. And with each new revolution of the flywheel of Russian-American relations deteriorating on the rise.
The next stage of escalation may be the RF output of the INF Treaty (on the elimination of intermediate and short range) that will certainly trigger “kontrvypad” US out of the same contract. So can we go back to one of the low points of the cold war in the early 1980-ies, when almost all Europe was full of American and Soviet nuclear and non-nuclear medium-range missiles. The INF Treaty was important because he had destroyed and banned all U.S. and Soviet land-based missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km.
It is unlikely today’s “cold war” can roll up to a new Cuban missile crisis. But we can get in return “Kaliningrad crisis” between Russia and the Baltic States, Poland and perhaps all of NATO, if the Kremlin will go to large-scale lodging in the enclave of their nuclear missiles, troops, fighter planes and tanks.
In the new war of sanctions the United States will rest on its own: “we do not remove the sanctions until Russia fulfills our conditions!” And in response, the Kremlin will rest in his: “we do not trade in principles!”
Russia will surely resist the American pressure at any cost, even if the price is extremely high. And although Victoria in this war of sanctions it is difficult to imagine the Russian propaganda will still try very hard to present a “heroic” resistance of the Russians under us sanctions as a real “victory” over the United States. Accordingly, we will often hear in the Russian news and different political programs such phrase: “we shall pay any price,” “we are not so experienced”, “I would live the country native, and no other worries”, “if only there was no war.”
Of course, in these pompous expressions, the concept of “we” by Russian propagandists and politicians is very different from the concept of “we” on the part of ordinary citizens. But even if ordinary citizens will Express similar thoughts, based on them still is a huge deception. However, they kind of treat psychological wounds from the humiliating American sanctions. After all, according to the lion’s share of the Russians, the US is trying to play the role of a strict teacher that wants to publicly punish his disobedient and unruly student.
Yeah, I would live the country native. But live and will live Russians in this sanctions war with the West? That’s the main issue. Alas, history shows that when Russia is in confrontation with the West, it is always cost Russia, first and foremost, the ordinary Russians, at times, more expensive than Western citizens. But nothing: only there was no war. Because sanctions war, of course, better than real, “hot”, isn’t it?
Sanctions . Chronicle of events