'Why do Americans behave shamelessly with us? They are not interested in us'
Vladimir Shtol, expert on geopolitics, tells about the US sanctions war against Russia
While the Russian market is enduring the new sanctions announced by the US State Department, experts are considering the prospects of possible countermeasures against the United States. Doctor of Political Science, Professor at Ranepa and expert on geopolitics Vladimir Shtol analyzes the situation specially for Realnoe Vremya and explains why anti-sanctions are unproductive and what damage such policy can cause to both sides.
'US sanctions against Russia are absolutely illegal'
Mr Shtol, are Russia's retaliatory sanctions against the United States possible?
The approach of dealing with the problem of sanctions through so-called counter-measures is counterproductive and cannot lead to anything good. From the point of view of this kind of fighting of the two economies, it is certainly very difficult for us and the West. We must understand that sanctions and anti-sanctions are damaging to both sides, no one benefits from this. Therefore, involving in sanctions will not bring us any benefit, and there is absolutely no sense in this.
The West is trying to use sanctions against us, although they are absolutely illegal in terms of the international law. Since such sanctions can be imposed only by a decision of the UN Security Council, which did not happen, does not, and most importantly, cannot happen, because Russia has the right to veto any decision of the UN Security Council. Of course, we are not masochists and will not allow any restrictions against ourselves, so this issue is a dead end from the point of view of the existing international law. Therefore, what is happening against us today is an ordinary trade war.
''The West is trying to use sanctions against us, although they are absolutely illegal in terms of the international law. Since such sanctions can be imposed only by a decision of the UN Security Council.'' Photo: Stan Honda/AFP (epochtimes.ru)
Let's take, for example, the initial sanctions related to the events in Crimea. But today this topic is no longer discussed. Not de jure, but de facto everyone understands that Crimea is the Russian territory forever and there won't be any changes. Therefore, there can be no grounds for lifting the sanctions, that is, they should be absolutely eternal.
But today the sanctions have been tightened many times — more than two dozen times since 2014. Accordingly, any reasons are used, whether related to the events in the UK about the Novichok casae or with the alleged interference in the US election campaign, that is, the reasons that have no relation to Ukraine and Crimea at all and are on a completely different side of the problem.
Does it mean that the West is looking for any pretext against Russia?
Today, the sanctions against our country are simply the desire of the West, especially the Americans, to weaken Russia. Well, the desire of Europeans as well. I would not lessen their responsibility — it should not be demonized or exaggerated, but it also exists because they are not wordless creatures which simply submit to Americans and realize their whims. By the way, if it concerns the Europeans, for example, with the deal on Iran, when the Americans — the administration of Trump came up with this initiative, the European administration, the bureaucracy in the face Mogherini, had already announced that the European companies may not comply with the laws of the United States in relation to America's withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran. That is, when they need to, the Europeans are quite able to defend their own national interests, group interests, in this case, of the European Union.
''The European administration, the bureaucracy in the face Mogherini, had already announced that the European companies may not comply with the laws of the United States in relation to America's withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran''
''It's just an ordinary trade and economic financial war''
Therefore, the sanctions against us have already went out of the 'luxury' sector, related to jewellery or exotic goods. They have already entered the oil and gas industry, financial and banking, production sector, that is, any. Individual sanctions against Russian politicians, businessmen, individual structures and state corporations, etc., are being introduced. Thus, the sanctions are taking a comprehensive character, and I think that this is just an ordinary trade and economic financial war, not a confrontation, but a war against Russia. The West felt that Russia is beginning to build its own foreign policy, and it is giving fruit, has some success and impact on other countries. After all, what is the phenomenon of Russian foreign policy today? In fact, it is the only state that can show the world that there is an alternative to absolute submission to the American dictate. In this sense, sanctions are absolutely counterproductive. Why do the Americans call us and China their main threats and threats to the existing world order, which they created after the collapse of the Soviet Union? Because Russia today, like China, to a certain extent is demonstrating an alternative way of international politics, world development. For example, the system of associations with Russia's participation, I mean the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, BRICS and some other organisations. They are still few, and their weight may not be as impressive as the systems of the West, but nevertheless, it is the alternative, most importantly, another option for the development of the world order. This is most annoying to Americans and their allies. It is annoying, frightening and unacceptable from the point of view of the logic of American leaders and, of course, they want to resist it. But since they understand that the military conflict with Russia is counterproductive because there is an understanding of mutual physical and multiple destruction, which will entail a conflict with a nuclear superpower, which our country continues to be today. It is counterproductive from the outset, it makes no sense, the price of victory is devalued by the fact that there will be no winner, it is the whole phenomenon.
Is it the reason why the US has chosen a sanctions war?
Yes, because for an ideological struggle with Russia, the West has no reason to put pressure on us, like it was under communism, the foundations of which contradict the foundations of capitalism. They say that they have the institution of private property, as a sacred cow, all these attributes are present in us — the same meaningless capitalism as in the West, and the same private property. But it is this understanding of the complex of this alternative path that forces the West to try to strangle Russia through economic sanctions. To a certain extent, this certainly brings us certain problems in the sense that our economy has been developing for a long time as a specific economy related to the oil and hydrocarbon extractive industries. But on the other hand, it gives us a chance to reconsider, finally, our position, from the point of view of development of national economy, and to develop not only oil production, gas production, but, first of all, processing and also other industries, e.g., agriculture, mechanical engineering, aircraft construction, where we now have new programmes – that was almost ruined.
''The sanctions are taking a comprehensive character, and I think that this is just an ordinary trade and economic financial war, not a confrontation, but a war against Russia.'' Photo: новости-россии.ru-an.info
''Why do Americans behave so shamelessly with us? Because they are not interested in us as an economic partner''
Therefore, our response measures, I would not call them sanctions, are simply forced response measures, they are also not very positive for us in terms of the development of our economy. But on the other hand, it gives us an opportunity not only to review the structural development of the Russian economy, but also its orientation. It is no coincidence that on the emblem of the Russian Federation there is the double-headed eagle, which looks both to the West and to the East — we are, of course, both European and Eurasian power. Therefore, probably, there will be a natural in this situation rethinking and reorientation of the markets of consumption of our products. The European Union, of course, is a colossal partner for us, the partner number one, so we are subject to dependence on some conjuncture changes in the relations with Europe, the EU.
Why do Americans behave so shamelessly towards us? Because they are not interested in us as an economic partner. Our share in American trade turnover is so small that they do not even have to think seriously. But we have our own options of cooperation: with the People's Republic of China, with Iran, the Republic of Turkey, probably, with the CIS countries, Latin America, Africa. I understand, of course, that this is not a replacement for the European Union and American industry, but nevertheless, this is also a scenario.