Apr 18, 2021
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Have you talked on the phone and agreed to end the relationship?

Photo: US President Joseph Biden

Photo: US President Joseph Biden (Photo: AP / TASS)

Less than two days after the telephone conversation between the presidents of Russia and the United States, and the conversation took place at the initiative of the American side, as Joe Biden expelled ten of our diplomats, imposed tough new sanctions, including on Russian sovereign debt, and declared a national security emergency “in connection with Russia’s actions.”

“I have issued a national emergency decree in response to an atypical and extreme threat to the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States, posed by certain harmful actions of the government of the Russian Federation.”– RIA Novosti quotes Biden’s letter to Congress.

In general, we talked …

It is reported that the state of emergency in the field of national security is the basis for the imposition of sanctions. It’s not very clear, but what, without him, it was impossible to impose sanctions?

Joe Biden previously stated that Putin will pay for meddling in the US presidential election. But, of course, it will not be Putin who will pay, but completely different people: sanctions have been introduced against 12 Russians and 20 Russian organizations. This is not counting the very ten Russian diplomats declared persona non grata.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Biden would issue a decree expanding bans on US banks’ trading in Russian government debt.

So how, one wonders, to assess the actions of the head of the White House, who, during that very telephone conversation, suggested that Vladimir Putin hold a meeting in the coming months on the territory of a third country. At the same time, as the Secretary of State said Anthony Blinken, it is about organizing a meeting “in the coming weeks”.

Well, what to talk about with them? It turns out, first you invite to a meeting and then you slam the door yourself?

The Kremlin dubbed this behavior a “step forward – two steps back” tactic and said it was not suitable for building relations between Moscow and Washington. Negotiation proposal, according to the spokesman for the Russian president Dmitry Peskov, cannot change the approach of the Russian leadership to the assessment of sanctions.

“As for the sanctions, the approach here cannot change. We condemn <…> In any case, the principle of reciprocity applies. I would not like to act in our relations according to the Leninist formula “one step forward, two steps back”, – RBC quotes him.

Speaking about a possible meeting of Vladimir Putin with his American counterpart Joe Biden, Peskov also noted that the discussed probable sanctions “will not help” her. “And whether they interfere or do not interfere – the president will decide,” Peskov emphasized.

– Biden is implementing the measures he had promised earlier to “punish” Russia on a number of points concerning America and other countries, – notes Stanislav Byshok, Candidate of Political Science, Executive Director of the International Monitoring Organization CIS-EMO. – Note that official Moscow considers all accusations far-fetched. Under the presidency Change There is a consensus in the American establishment that the Republican is “too soft” with Russia and stubbornly ignores the threat that, according to the law enforcement agencies, it poses for the United States and for liberal democracies in general. Biden, as the establishment’s benchmark politician, corrects this flaw.

“SP”: – It is reported that the state of emergency in the field of national security is the basis for the imposition of sanctions. Was it impossible to impose sanctions without him? What other rights does this regime give the White House?

– The United States has a very confusing decision-making system, which, as far as can be judged, the previous president could not figure out during his four years in power. For Russian enterprises and civil servants who have come under sanctions, it does not matter whether they are imposed under an emergency or an ordinary situation. Fundamentally different: the set of claims against Russian actors is comprehensive – unlike, for example, the notorious anti-Soviet sanctions under the amendment JacksonBroom… Although even the latter survived the central reason for their appearance (difficulties with Jewish immigration) for a couple of decades. Washington’s new sanctions are no longer sanctions in the usual sense of the word, but a new framework for US-Russian interaction. The frame is unpleasant, although not critical.

“SP”: – How to understand this policy “Step forward and two back”? What do they want to achieve by this?

“Rather, the American slogan used by President Biden in a recent interview,“ go and chew gum at the same time, ”will do. His predecessor has repeatedly said that any negotiations must be conducted from a position of strength. Biden, obviously, continues to quite himself the Trumpist line in the Russian direction, and not only in rhetorical terms, but also in practical terms.

“SP”: – Maria Zakharova says that Washington is trying to destroy bilateral relations with Moscow? Aren’t they destroyed yet? Is there anything else to destroy?

– From the point of view of official Moscow, Washington’s general policy towards Russia is senseless, stupid, counterproductive and dangerous. The problem is that this policy is more or less fully supported by the bipartisan consensus of Democrats and Republicans. Although it is recognized that China poses a much greater threat to the global interests of the United States, China is too difficult to fight, given the enormous economic interdependence of the two countries. The United States has no such history with Russia.

As for the broken relations, even in the case of wars – real ones – the parties to the conflict usually practice mutual exchange of prisoners. Today, when we have sanctioned – fake – wars, there is a mutual exchange of diplomats. Bad practice, of course, but there is also good news: countries under Biden have extended the Treaty on Measures to Further Reduce and Limit Strategic Offensive Arms (START), and US warships are reportedly not going through the Bosphorus to the Black Sea for now.

“SP”: – Should Putin then meet with Biden? After all, he, obviously, will raise the stakes and blackmail Russia, imposing his own “truce conditions” …

– Unlike Trump’s presidency, with which at first Moscow was associated with the possibility of a full-fledged “reset” of Russian-American relations, no one pinned special hopes on Biden. Accordingly, the new sanctions did not come as a big surprise for Moscow – obviously, the Kremlin proceeds from such a forecast that before relations begin to improve, they will worsen even more.

The new US sanctions can hardly be called an attempt to blackmail Russia or impose their own terms of a truce. The fact is that the basis of Washington’s claims to official Moscow is not only and not so much the current policy of Russia, but a set of certain events that have already happened – from massive hacker attacks to attempted murders of dissenters (note that Moscow denies all these accusations). That is, in contrast to the already mentioned story with Jewish immigration from the USSR, it is completely unclear here what Russia should do in real time for the sanctions to be lifted.

The general point is that any negotiation is better than no negotiation. At the same time, of course, the factor of time and circumstances is also important. Perhaps President Putin will pause the summit for now.

– Despite the pressure from the representatives of the Congress (and both Republicans and some Democrats insist on toughening their position with respect to Russia), the new anti-Russian sanctions of the American administration turned out to be rather mild, – believes Dmitry Galkin, political columnist for the 2000 newspaper. – The Biden administration clearly does not want a serious aggravation of relations between the United States and Russia, since this could become an obstacle to the restoration of the strategic alliance with Germany, undermined by Trump. But at the same time, Washington does not want the Kremlin to view the imposition of sanctions, which clearly cannot seriously harm the Russian economy, as weakness. Therefore, he declared a state of emergency in connection with the actions of Russia to demonstrate that Washington is ready, if necessary, to take tougher action.

“SP”: – What are we afraid of these new sanctions? Future sanctions against the Russian government debt will continue to affect only the initial placement of government bonds of the Russian Federation. That is, they are still not going to break all the threads? Are these blows so painful for the Russian elite that they would go to all the conditions of the United States?

– Of course, the United States is not going to enter into a foreign policy conflict with Russia, or even more so to create a threat of military confrontation. Therefore, they are taking actions that are more symbolic in nature, but at the same time make it clear that they are capable of causing serious economic damage to Russia. Prohibitive measures concerning the Russian state debt, of course, will somewhat complicate the activities of Russian financial institutions, but will not pose a threat to the Russian financial system. The United States does not at all insist on the literal fulfillment of all the demands it claims – such as the return of Crimea to Ukraine. But Washington would like Russia to make some concessions (not only in the Donbas, but also in Syria and Afghanistan). Therefore, there is a danger that if Washington and Moscow fail to agree, US sanctions against Russia could become tougher.

“SP”: – Peskov said that Lenin’s formula “one step forward, two steps back” is not suitable for building relations between Moscow and Washington. AND? What conclusions will Moscow make? How does he usually express concern?

– Russia can respond by increasing tension in the “Ukrainian direction”. In the current situation, this would be an extremely painful step for the US administration. In this case, tensions between Washington and Moscow could indeed reach dangerous levels.

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