Is the US preparing Russia for the Syrian-Korean scenario?

Author : Georgiy Kuhaleyshvili

Source : 112 Ukraine

Four months have passed since the Russian special services poisoned Skrypal, and the Republicans started talking about new sanctions only on the eve of the midterm elections to the US Congress
10:15, 14 August 2018

Associated Press

Information has appeared that the US is going to introduce new sanctions against Russia after August 22 in response to a chemical attack in Salisbury, UK. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has signed a decree that the Russian Federation violated international law by attempting to poison Salisbury's former Russia's military intelligence (GRU) officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia in March of this year. Sanctions will be introduced in accordance with the current US law: the 1991 Chemical and Biological Weapons Abatement Act. The document provides for the possibility of imposing restrictive measures against states that use chemical and biological weapons against their citizens, as well as firms involved in their distribution.

According to the act of sanctions are introduced in two stages, after written notification to the US Congress within 15 days. At the first stage of the sanctions, there are restrictions in the sphere of export and financing. American companies will not be able to obtain licenses to export products to Russia, which is important for the US national security, including gas turbines, integrated circuits, various electronics, including test equipment used in aviation electronic equipment. At the second stage, sanctions will affect the decline in the level of diplomatic relations. It is planned to prohibit Aeroflot Russian airline from flying to the United States. Russia can be cut off from export-import operations with the American counterparts. The second package of sanctions will be introduced if Russia does not prove the absence of chemical weapons on its territory within three months.

Related: Russia calls new sanctions "draconian"

Act on the Elimination of Chemical and Biological Weapons of 1991 is one of two dozen legislative acts of the US Congress that deal with the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and is an aid to restrictive measures against individual states. Non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is one of the successive priorities of the US foreign policy. Washington has repeatedly used the act as a basis for imposing sanctions against other states. The States introduced a new package of sanctions against North Korea in March 2018 in response to poisoning with VX nerve agent Kim Jong-Nama (cousin of North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong-un) at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The United States imposed sanctions against Syria in response to the use by the troops of President Bashar Assad of the nerve agent sarin against the Syrian opposition in Guta (in August 2013). Then, from 281 to 1429 people died. After this incident, a special UN group worked in Syria, which investigated the circumstances of the chemical attack and confirmed the use of chemical weapons.

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Through its actions, Russia has created the basis for introducing new sanctions on the Syrian-Korean scenario. Citizens of the Russian Federation: Sergei Skripal, who has dual citizenship, and his daughter Julia became victims of the Novichok agent. Russia has also violated the 1993 Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons by using a poisonous substance as a tool to kill its former spy in the UK. Russia has violated the sovereignty of the country, which is a NATO member. Russian officials made false claims of non-involvement in the chemical attack in Salisbury, which only increased the suspicions of the Americans and Europeans.

In April, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed that the Skripals were poisoned with BZ nerve agent, which was in service of the US and UK. However, according to the director of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ahmet Uzumju, no traces of BZ were found in the samples taken by the experts at the site of the poisoning. Director of the Department of Information and Press of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Maria Zakharova claimed that Novichok was developed by Great Britain, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Sweden or the USA. Czech President Miloš Zeman said his country had actually developed a small amount of A-230 substance (one of the Novichok species) for the exercises of the anti-chemical defense unit last year and quickly destroyed the samples.

Related: Which new US sanctions on Russia are likely?

Instead of providing strong evidence of the lack of chemical weapons, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that the US intention to tighten sanctions is equivalent to declaring an economic war, which will have to be reacted with political, economic, and other methods. The Russian embassy in the United States said that the State Department had announced new "draconian sanctions" under a far-fetched pretext. Russia's rhetoric is convenient for America since the Salisbury incident will now be used as an excuse for further tightening of anti-Russian sanctions. In early August, a group of Republican Senators and Democrats introduced a bill on tightening anti-Russian sanctions. New restrictive measures are envisaged for Russian entrepreneurs and state enterprises, persons who operate in cyberspace, and a ban on granting licenses to US residents to participate in projects of the oil industry in Russia.

This arrangement is beneficial for Ukraine. The US is not going to curtail the policy of anti-Russian sanctions and are looking for new arguments for their toughening and prolongation. Russia's violation of the regime of non-proliferation of chemical weapons is a reinforced argument in favor of maintaining existing sanctions, which will be reinforced with new restrictive measures. Against the background of reports of new sanctions, the ruble collapsed. According to The Guardian, new sanctions will affect 70% of the Russian economy. Despite the fact that the US share in the total volume of Russian imports is only 5.6%, about half of the American-supplied products contain high-tech components, which will be subject to new restrictions. Last year, the share of machinery, equipment, and vehicles in Russia's imports from the United States amounted to over 43%.

Related: Trump: "Sanctions on Russia will remain as is"

Even in the face of tension in US-Russian relations, Russians continue to rely on certain types of American equipment. The Russian airline Aeroflot operates 41 American Boeing 737-800s (there are 243 aircraft in the fleet). In 2013-18 years. Aeroflot purchased 17 Boeing 777-300ER airliners. More than 100 Russian firms work with the American company General Electrics and buy equipment for the oil and gas industry, aviation, transport and healthcare systems. Within the framework of a joint venture with the company "RAO UES", General Electrics produces gas turbines for the Russian market. The division of GE Aviation works with 25 Russian airlines and serves 115 aircraft, and GE Transportation participates in the modernization of the railway in Yakutia. General Electrics cooperates with MTL company, the Russian manufacturer of medical equipment. In 2017, Russian enterprises purchased agricultural machinery in the US for $ 1.39 million. According to the EkoNiva dealer, 5 thousand John Deer equipment is serviced in Russia. Last year, sales in Russia of cars from the American Ford plant grew by 29%. Naturally, all this equipment periodically requires repair, replacement of components and renovation, and some Russian companies simply cannot survive without trade with the United States.

The US and France are the largest suppliers of classified products to Russia. Last year, about 30% ($ 2.7 billion) of all imported products from the US went through the SS secret code. In Russia, classified products are weapons, military equipment, dual-use products (used for military and civil purposes), if disclosure of their supply could damage the security of the state. Most likely, we are talking about technologies that can be used in the aircraft building, aerospace, nuclear industry. The reverse side of the new sanctions will be losses for US equipment manufacturers who work in Russia and will lose their licenses to export their products to this country.

Related: Believe it or not, Trump’s following a familiar script on Russia

Four months have passed since the Russian special services poisoned Skrypal, and the Republicans started talking about new sanctions only now, on the eve of the midterm elections to the US Congress. Most likely, Trump's administration proceeds purely out of political interests, not security considerations and the protection of the regime of non-proliferation of chemical weapons. Oppositional Democrats are trying to earn ratings on the criticism of the foreign policy of the current administration. According to the Rasmussen Reports, 52% of respondents do not support Trump's policy. According to a Reuters / Ipsos poll, 41% of Americans support the Democratic Party, while the Republican Party is supported by 39%.

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Republicans expect to iron some of the arguments of the Democrats with the help of new sanctions against Russia in response to the use of chemical weapons in Salisbury. Democratic Party leader Hillary Clinton called President Donald Trump the puppet of Putin, claimed that he was seeking the NATO split. The former head of the CIA under the Democrats John Brennan called Trump’s rhetoric at a recent meeting with Putin in Helsinki a treason. The US president denied Russia's intervention in the presidential elections in the US in 2016. Trump's opponents criticize him for tightening the migration regime, withdrawing from the Paris agreement on climate protection, a nuclear deal with Iran and an agreement on a trans-Pacific partnership, and for imposing high duties on Europe.

The Republicans specifically announced new sanctions against Russia before the elections to make it clear to American society and the world that they are sensitive to the security of NATO allies, for example, the UK, whose subjects became victims of Russian provocation. The Trump administration has confirmed its intention to adhere to a tough policy toward Russia, regardless of what the president says. The Republicans talked in advance about sanctions against the Russian Federation in order to make it clear to the Russian authorities that the interference in the midterm congressional elections was hopeless since the slightest trace of the provocation by the Kremlin would be the reason for new restrictive measures.

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