US preparing new sanctions against Russia
US President Donald Trump issued a memo ordering State Secretary Mike Pompeo to propose sanctions on Russia in response to alleged violations of a 1987 missile treaty, the White House said today.
A spending bill for fiscal year 2018 requires that Trump develop and submit to Congress a plan to punish Russia for its non-compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
The measures listed in section 1244(c)(1)-(4) include travel bans and asset freezes on senior Russian officials identified as being responsible for ordering or facilitating Russia’s non-compliance with the pact.
The INF Treaty which was signed in 1987 covered deployed and non-deployed ground-based short-range missiles (from 500 to 1000 kilometers) and intermediate-range missiles (from 1000 to 5500 kilometers).
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has repeatedly voiced concern over US claims seen as a way to justify more sanctions on Russia. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denied that Russia was in breach of the accord, saying there was no proof, and in turn accused Washington of "taking liberties" with the treaty.
The director of the Roosevelt Fund of Study of the US at Moscow State University, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Yuri Rogulev, speaking with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, recalled that this issue has long been discussed by Moscow and Washington. "But these mutual accusations appear mainly in the press, while there are no direct negotiations and consultations where it would be possible to discuss the claims of the parties and concrete facts," the expert said.
According to him, it is yet impossible to understand whether Trump's order to Pompeo was some element of pressure, or a means of acceleration of any negotiation or maneuver associated with Trump's criticism in Congress. "We need to understand the basis of this statement. But the sanctions will be linked with possible evidence of Russia's refusal to comply with the terms of the contract. While it is not proven, so why I think that this is just an element of pressure or the Trump administration's desire to respond to the criticism from the Congress," the director of the Roosevelt Fund of Study of the US at Moscow State University said.
Yury Rogulev also added that Congress passed a resolution that allows Trump to withdraw from the treaty if it is proved that Russia has violated the terms of the agreement. "This fact has already taken place, therefore, they take actions at the executive level," the expert explained.
The senior research fellow at the European Research Centre of the International Relations Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Olenchenko, stressed that such instructions should be regarded as the intention of the US to withdraw from the INF Treaty. "First, it would mean that the United States wants to supply these missiles to its allies and not only them. Second, that they will certainly think about using them. All of this together, of course, destabilizes an already complicated situation in the world. Therefore, this instruction is a demonstration that the United States is moving to a practical stage of withdrawing from the INF Treaty," the expert said.
"Undoubtedly, the Russian side is taking all measures to convince the Americans not to leave this treaty, especially since the treaty has been in effect for 30 years. Why does Trump insist on withdrawing from it? The fact is that the US president relies on financial groups that are linked with the US military-industrial complex. Second, the withdrawal from the INF treaty opens up new opportunities for redistributing the budget towards additional military spending on production," Vladimir Olenchenko explained.
In addition, he recalled that the US often uses such a technique in its policy as the substitution of one event for another. "Now the world continues to rage around the events in Palestine. The second event is Trump's decision to withdraw from the JCPOA. These two events cause sharp criticism from most of the world's countries. Apparently, US politicians expect that this event will overshadow them," the expert suggested.
"In addition, the NATO summit will be held in July. Probably by this time Trump wants to have at his disposal some ready-made mechanisms. I do not rule out that he will announce the exit on the eve," Vladimir Olenchenko added.