Mikhail Remizov: "It won't be a problem for the United States to pause sanctions"
The special envoy of the Russian President on Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, today reminded about a case when the US anti-Russian sanctions were lifted: in November of last year Washington was forced to make an exception for 'Rosoboronexport', so that helicopters they bought in Russia for the Afghan government received proper maintenance. The president of the National Strategy Institute, Mikhail Remizov, spoke about about the conditions under which we could expect the same behavior from the United States, in an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza.
- In your opinion, does this case demonstrate that the US can lift the anti-Russian sanctions at any moment?
- The United States, when they don't want to comply with their own sanctions, simply violate them – they either look for official loopholes or do it unofficially. The case with the helicopters in Afghanistan is an example of the first scenario. Indeed, Afghanistan traditionally has a huge number of Soviet military equipment, Kabul purchased Russian weapons even after the US intervention. Naturally, all of this requires maintenance, which is provided in the framework of Russian-Afghan military and technical cooperation. In order for this cooperation to go through the official channels, for the Russian side also to undertake certain obligations, so that there would be no shady schemes, the US made an exception for 'Rosoboronexport'. Moreover, for example, they still buy our rocket engines, simply because they would spend much more money and time if they constructed them by themselves – it is more profitable to spend the same resources on developing new generation technologies. This happens with the 'Falcon' and other models. So they will make an exception if it is beneficial for them. There were cases in Europe and the United States when American companies bypassed the US sanctions, and Washington just ignored it, General Electric and the Iranian sanctions, for example, are often remembered in this context. It won't be a problem for the United States to pause sanctions.
- What can force Washington to lift sanctions in the foreseeable future?
- There is a pretty small number of positions where the US has really close economic cooperation with us. Supplies of some metals, such as titanium for Boeing. It's worth noting that these supplies are carried out by a company that is not under sanctions. If, for example, there will be some sort of merger or corporate takeover and the company will fall under sanctions, the United States will just look for loopholes. Again, depending on the positions of industrial, psychological and economic cooperation, if the US will be interested, they will make an exception for any company that is important for them.
- Is the economic effectiveness of the anti-Russian sanctions important for the US?
- There is no direct dependence. The United States will maintain the sanctions even if they see that the Russian economy has adapted to them. The same thing happened with the notorious Jackson-Vanik amendment, which no longer corresponded to the political context and were constantly suspended economically, but still continued to operate as a basis. I don't think the US will lift the sanctions. A very important point is that the existence of the sanctions regime itself is a very convenient lever that can either be weakened or strengthened. It is much easier to have sanctions in the background, make certain concessions or ignore them, if it is needed, than to abolish useless sanctions, and then introduce new ones, starting this work from the beginning once again. The sanctions regime can become stricter even without new restrictions: right now the US can simply tell any global company that cooperation with Russia violates American rules and the company is likely to retreat. Everyone depends on the dollar, many large companies of national level depend on the US domestic market, many technology companies depend on the supply of equipment or critically important components from the US. So they have enough opportunities to strengthen the sanctions using their own companies and companies of international level.
- Is cooperation with Russia in any area important for the United States today?
- We need to know who will soon be in the White House and how they see the US role in world affairs in order to know this. Right now the space of possibilities is expanding, American internal and foreign policy itself may be close to a new reboot, which may affect the relations with Russia. There is a certain crisis in terms of understanding their own place in the world and their goals at the global level within the United States at the moment. Russian-American relations depend on how the new president and his team overcome will this crisis. All I can say is that, regarding sanctions, the United States will negotiate where it has a strong negotiating position, and we will simple be ignored in weak positions.