Counter Sanctions

Last week, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the State Duma that Russia was developing a “series of measures” for an “asymmetrical response” if Washington imposed more sanctions.

However, the deputy FM gave no details on what the “asymmetrical response” would entail.

So Rosbalt went to the experts and asked what they thought the Kremlin would do.

HSE Professor Nikolai Petrov told the paper:

“We have already seen such options. It is most likely going to withdraw from the agreements that we signed… with the US. In addition to the agreement on weapons-grade plutonium, [which] has been suspended, there is also the agreement on medium and short-range missiles (the INF [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty]), and so forth.

This logic has continued ever since the “Magnitsky List”…. To cause moral damage to the enemy, we are ready to make some decisions, knowing that they do not necessarily prove beneficial to us but often the reverse and will be quite painful.”

Petrov also noted that several “agreements with US in the field of strategic arms limitation” were set to expire, and suggested that they would not be renewed.

“At the same time, the expert believes that what we are seeing today as a certain toughening of Moscow’s position, is in fact a kind of “pre-sale preparation”.

He predicted that before the end of the year, “the Kremlin will make some move to improve relations with the West…” and have the sanctions regime removed. But from a position of strength, “so that it will not look like a sign of weakness, but… another victory.”

Vice President at the Center for Political Technology Alexei Makarkin disagreed with Petrov, saying:

“…the agreement on the limitation of strategic weapons will be treated carefully because to dismantle the system of strategic stability is still scary.”

In Makarkin’s view, “the Russian government may impose certain restrictions on foreign investors.”

“If in the 1990s investment attractiveness was considered a priority, now on the contrary, the investor is considered to be a kind of threat, like a man who can find out all of our secret plans in this area, or as someone who is too dependent on the West, on its own government.”

Moscow Carnegie Center’s Alexei Malashenko thought that Russia’s options were limited.

“According to him, the economic measures Russia [has imposed] against the US would have totally insignificant consequences, given the small volume of trade between the two countries. Restrictions on entry of some officials from the US to Russia have been introduced, and to no avail…”

Pulling out of the “treaty on limiting strategic arms would only benefit the military -industrial complexes of the two countries,” Malashenko added.

If that were to happen, it would set off “a new arms race”, which Russia would lose “because the Americans are first in the world in terms of GDP, and we are twelfth.” So our sanctions “cannot harm America, no matter how hard we try,” he concluded.

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