US Sanctions Bill: How Trump Administration Misread Russia

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Originally appeared at Veterans Today

Washington continues to misread Moscow, Russian economist Ivan Danilov writes for RIA Novosti. Instead of “bending to the will” of US policymakers, the Russian leadership clearly signals to Washington that it perceives the White House’s assertiveness not as a sign of strength but as a sign of weakness.
US Sanctions Bill: How Trump Administration Misread Russia

Alexey Druzginin / Anton Denisov / Russian Presidential Press Office / Sputnik

Washington misreads Russia and makes flawed prognoses regarding Moscow’s potential reaction to this or that US move, Ivan Danilov, a Russian economist and author of the popular blog Crimson Alter, writes in his recent op-ed for RIA Novosti.

“Washington has a wrong idea on how the Russian society and the Russian political elite are organized,” Danilov noted.

“In sum, these illusions — to which Clinton supporters are mostly exposed, but which the Trump team also has — create a dangerous situation and provide the American leadership (regardless of its political affiliation) with the false belief that Russia could be pressured and forced to surrender or to make concessions,” he pointed out.

Danilov highlights that in response to Washington’s muscle-flexing the Russian political and financial elite have repeatedly signaled that “Russia is not afraid, that the elite is consolidated and will stand its ground till the end.”According to the economist, it appears that the Trump administration makes concessions to US hawks because it has deluded itself into believing that either Russian President Vladimir Putin or the Russian elite will finally “get scared” and “bend” to Washington’s will.

However, as a rule, the Kremlin’s reaction to the US’s assertive political gestures doesn’t meet the expectations of US policymakers: the economist referred to the latest US sanctions bill and the April escalation of the Syrian crisis.

The Russian leadership has demonstrated to Washington that it perceived the US president’s tough moves not as a sign of strength, but as a sign of weakness, Danilov highlighted.

He quoted Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s Facebook statement released in response to the US Tomahawk strike on the Syrian Arab Army’s Shayrat airfield on April 7.

“This military action is a clear indication of the US president’s extreme dependency on the opinion of the Washington establishment, the one that the new president strongly criticized in his inauguration speech. Soon after his victory, I noted that everything would depend on how soon Trump’s election promises would be broken by the existing power machine. It took only two and a half months,” Medvedev pointed out.

Following the adoption of a new package of anti-Russian sanctions by the White House the Russian prime minister “struck” again.

“The US establishment has fully outwitted Trump; the president is not happy about the new sanctions, yet he could not but sign the bill. The issue of new sanctions came about, primarily, as another way to knock Trump down a peg. New steps are to come, and they will ultimately aim to remove him from power. A non-systemic player has to be removed,” Medvedev wrote.

The Trump administration has shown its total weakness by handing over executive power to Congress in the most humiliating way. This changes the power balance in US political circles,” the Russian prime minister elaborated.Does it work? Yes, indeed, Danilov believes: the White House has recently admitted that it had no alternative but to suspend its covert CIA program in Syria aimed at arming and training so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels.

“The joint bluff of American hawks and the Trump administration ended up in a very humiliating defeat in Syria and the recognition that [Syrian President Bashar] Assad will stay in power,” the economist wrote.

Danilov believes that the new sanctions law will face the same fate.

“Being confronted once again with the demonstration of the determination of the Russian society and authorities not to make concessions, the Trump administration won’t implement the restrictions which depend on the executive power,” he assumed.

While it will be hard to lift restrictive measures implemented under Barack Obama against Russia, Moscow has already reconciled itself to the idea that sanctions could remain in place for decades to come, he remarked.

“Perhaps, it is necessary for Trump to find himself in embarrassing geopolitical situations… in order to start substantive negotiations with the Kremlin,” Danilov suggested.

Meanwhile, the US sanctions law has triggered a wave of criticism from Europe with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel ranting that the anti-Russia measures are “diametrically opposed to the interests of Germany and the EU.”

“The draft law makes clear that they’re pursuing economic interests and we think that’s not acceptable,” Gabriel said Friday in the northern German city of Wolfsburg.

“Aggressively combining foreign policy issues with American economic interests and saying: we want to drive Russian gas out of the European market so we can sell American gas there is definitely not something we can accept,” he emphasized, as cited by Reuters.

Similarly, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker dropped the hint that Brussels stands ready to “defend our economic interests vis-à-vis the United States.”

For its part, the Chinese Foreign Ministry stated that Beijing is against any unilateral sanctions imposed by any country, including those recently enacted by the US, which imposed tough restrictive measures against Russia, Iran and North Korea.

“If this goes on, then it’s the US, not Russia, which will soon find itself in full political isolation,” Danilov concluded.

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  • Colin Oskapy

    So it is not a case of Trump and Putin mutually bonding and sorting out the world’s immigration and terrorist maladies together and bringing harmonious truth to the world and splintering the so-called Deep State into a million peices, as the new frontier drop shots had it with their syruppy spin.

  • Jesus

    Even though the US sanctions are illegal, Russia can self sufficiently develop into Europe’s largest economy; American LNG will be expensive and will not be competitive, unless there are large scale subsidies from the US government to make LNG compettitve with piped natural gas.

    • Serious

      USA has taken Libya. Now, they have all the gas that they want. And next step is Iran and Venezuela.

      • Barba_Papa

        No one has taken Libya, it’s anarchy down there. You can’t export gas if no one is in charge. Venezuela is a mess, turning into a the Latino version of Zimbabwe. And Iran has yet to be taken, and will not be that easy to take.

      • Jesus

        How do you conclude US has taken Libya?

        • Serious

          You are completly wrong. Morocco is 100% in US orbit. Tunisia the same. Libye the same. Egypt the same.

          • Jesus

            It is so, because you say so?

          • Serious

            There are US military facilities in Morocco. Libya is under Europe colonization now.

          • Jesus

            Not quite, maybe you need to qualify your statement that the Europeans are trying to colonize Libya, Russia will not allow it. So you changed your mind about Egypt being in the US orbit? Egypt and Russia will play a significant influence in Libya than U.K and France.

            As far as bases in Morocco, they were built in the early 50’s, they are SAC bases, I do not believe any B-52’s are deployed there.

          • Serious

            They will, they will. XD Whay don’t they do now ???

            Yoy are living in dreams.

          • Jesus

            They are doing it now, you are the dreamer. Rely on facts instead of tabloid nonsense.
            US bases in Morocco are vestiges of the Cold War of the 50’s where they deployed B-36 and B-48 bombers. US does not have any boots on the ground in N. Africa, therefore, accept the reality that eastern and central Mediterranean sea has become a Russian sea, and US is quite vulnerable.

          • Serious

            False. False. Morocco have US mlilitary facilities NOW.

          • Jesus

            Proof please. Those 3 airbases exist, however, they do not seem to be active.

          • Morocco must be getting itchy – it looks like they’re in for a Spring.

  • Ma_Laoshi

    Well if the misreading extends to both parties, then Russia’s signaling is obviously *not* clear enough, or at least not delivered in a form which Washington knuckleheads can understand. When the “Russia-friendly” Trump was preparing his missile strike on Syria, I remember the Kremlin’s signaling was “Suit yourself, it has nothing to do with us.” Some way to stand your ground! If instead Putin had said “You’ll be looking at hundreds of American dead before the chocolate cake is even finished”, that’d possibly have gotten The Donald’s attention.

    Then right after this sorry episode, Putin was still willing to sit down with Tillerson. A couple weeks later, the Kremlin was visibly giddy with anticipation, boasting that it had secured a “full sit-down” with Trump at the G-20, basking the in Emperor’s prestige.

    Russia will be treated as a paper tiger as long as it continues to behave like one. I see nothing strange or paradoxical in that.

    • cortisol

      “Never interrupt the enemy when it is making mistakes”.

      Long term all these blunders are just accelerating deterioration of the Empire through unforeseen consequences, such as the world, even the vassals who are ruled with mere bribery and threats, start defending their own interests which contradict what Washington has in mind for them. Eurasia will also end up becoming a much more self sufficient, and less dependent economy.

      • Serious

        The US empire is not deterioring at all. It is empowering because nobody wants to use the right weapons. They try to please the empire in order to the US empire doesn’t fight them until the US empire fight them even if they did whatever the empire told them.

        If you want to negociate with your ennemy, than don’t cry after if this ennemy go after you later.

        • cortisol

          You are right, no one will go to a “real” war against the US.

          But deterioration is happening as outer rims flock into trading with other currencies. Remember that all US power is based on nothing else than the ability to print unlimited currency, with which anything can be bought in the world. Military, manpower, diplomatic power, all irrelevant in comparison. The US can be defeated through just providing viable alternatives. Many leaders and nations have been destroyed because they were going to provide alternatives, however China and Russia who continue this as well cannot be defeated in a war. Also US has no real friends with a sense of loyalty, only vassals ruled through fear and bribery.

          • Serious

            The real power of the US empire is the anglo people. To win this war against the US empire you must protect those that fight against it. Otherwise, I don’t know how you will defeat it one day.

          • telefonkabel

            Here u r right. Putin already stated his missing veto for Libya as his biggest fault. He trusted too much and gave them an easy “victory”.

          • Serious

            It was not Putin, it was Medvedev. Even without the UN veto, they would have done like Iraq. Do you really think that the US empire care about laws ???? International laws are made to be respected by you not by them. If you don’t respect them, they will invade you. If they don’t respect them, nothing happens. They invaded Iraq illegally. Nothing happens. They invaded Syria illegally. Nothing happens.

          • telefonkabel

            That makes a difference in public opinion.
            Everybody is aware of the missing WMDs in Iraq (even when many say it was only sad fault), but Libya is much harder to feel unjust without proper understanding.

          • “Remember that all US power is based on nothing else than the ability to print unlimited currency,”
            ————–
            And therein lies the American dilemma.
            That ability to print unlimited currency is built on the dollars ‘created’ in a world that buys and sells US dollars to import and export goods and services.

            Australia buys mutton from New Zealand:
            New Zealand buys USD to buy the meat, Australia sells the USD for own currency. Every transaction involved pays a percentage to the US economy. (9%) All over the world – it was literally “money for nothing.”

            But:
            With half the world now using own currencies to transact among themselves – those transactions are no longer creating the dollars needed to run the US economy, defense budget etc and service that national debt. The US’s ability to just print more has been severely curtailed and that curtailment tightens with every deal Russia and China make with countries not the US and Patsies.

            …It’s not for nothing those Yankee phückers are getting desperate.

          • cortisol

            Exact explanation.

            That is why I’ve always said that the US economy can be compared to a long term steroid user – they are at higher chance of “crashing ” should their supply of steroids suddenly run out, in this case the “goodwill of the world”. Tapering the economy or a sudden crash inevitably lead to less relevant USA, smaller military budget, and a chaotic society considering the already huge poverty even now, with this optimal situation. I don’t think their situation is really getting any better and has seen the peak some time ago.

        • telefonkabel

          Some penguins sit with an hungry icebear on an iceshelf in spring.
          You tell them to fight and no step back! I would tell them to swim.
          Even if a could night is about to come and the bear is grinning, it’s spring and the shelf is already doomed.

          • Serious

            If you do the right things, you even don’t have to fight with a war.

      • Tudor Miron

        Well said.

    • “I remember the Kremlin’s signaling was “Suit yourself, it has nothing to do with us.””
      ———-
      I see… so you think the Americans just make really shìtty Tomahawks and that’s why most missed their targets?

      And why should your paper tiger accept America’s invitation to war?
      They’ll get better results just waiting and making like a paper tiger. Time and the US dollar will do the work for them.

      As cortisol cites below: “Never interrupt the enemy when he is making mistakes”.

      • Ma_Laoshi

        I don’t claim to know the truth about the Tomahawk episode. Even if I’d trust the integrity of Sy Hersh (and not everyone does), then his account is still based on anonymous sources who a bit too conveniently place all blame on Trump individually. Still, it’s possible that in April, the US wanted little more than a fireworks show.

        We’re going towards a draw by repetition of moves here. I think I understand and appreciate what you are saying. And yet, with the US dollar, it has been “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” previously. Also, while Russia feels they did the right thing in Syria (helping Europe in the bargain), Scandinavia and Georgia are lining up behind NATO. And Washington’s continued impunity is the context in which they beat the war drums on the Korean peninsula.

        • They aren’t trying to kill the Dollar – only to contain it.
          So that American dollars make dollars for American trade, Chinese yuan make yuan for Chinese trade, Russian rubles make rubles for Russian trade etc. instead of all trade only making dollars for America.

          It’s slow but it’s working.

        • Tomahawks…..
          The Americans fired 59, less than half reached their target and less that half of those did any damage. Despite US claims that they’d destroyed 20% of Syria’s operational aircraft and destroyed the base’s ability to refuel and re-arm, Al Shayrat was back in business within 24 hours.

          So my point is …. either the Americans make shìtty Tomahawks – or “someone” redirected the majority of them.

          • Ma_Laoshi

            Sure I know the actual results of the strike. But an alternative explanation, favored by Hersh, is that the people with at least some relevant qualifications (some of whom are in the region, in range of Russian missiles) know damn well there was no chemical attack, and did the bare minimum needed to pacify their clueless CIC until his next outburst.

            I don’t know enough to choose between the theories (or simple malfunction). Could even have been a little bit of both.

          • Everyone with half a brain knows the Syrian Arab Army did not conduct a sarin gas attack on Idlib from AL Shayrat.

            Quite simply, NO-ONE treats sarin victims with bare hands, no goggles and no protective clothing whatsoever. (If you do then YOU will be in the ICU fighting for your life from sarin exposure. You will take sarin exposed clothing home and expose your family.)

            Also, had sarin been stored at Al Shayrat there would be signs of sarin at Al Shayrat – and the Americans bombed it without looking for those signs AND refused to allow a fact-finding inspection after: Ergo – they KNEW there was none or they’d be hopping to “prove to the world “See! See! Asaad used sarin gas on his own people!”

            Don’t only look at what people (specially special people) say and do – also look at what they do not.

          • Ma_Laoshi

            All true, or even too obvious to need restating. But the Americans’ willingness to do this to anyone who looks at them funny, and do so with complete impunity, means that they aren’t being called out on it in the places that count. You think that just letting them rage while the dollar scam runs its course is the best policy. But without a price to pay for their Syrian crimes, the US feels free to move the whole show over to Korea; oh and Venezuela too.

          • :-)
            No I think they trade in dollars, need dollars to survive and thrive, can’t trade without dollars and the USA controls the dollars.
            …. And Russia/China are the enemy because they’re changing that.

            Are you suggesting countries should attack/invade America?
            And give her the morally justified, defensive war she’s so clearly desperate for?

            Perhaps one day they will “pay the price” — I’m sure the Third Reich didn’t expect to pay for theirs before they did.

          • The Americans did (as they were supposed to as per now torn up memorandum) notify the Russians about the upcoming strike on Al Shayrat but they were sneaky clever about warning them.

            Instead of using their hotline directly to the Russians they notified them via Jordan in the middle of night – warning got held up nicely and the Russians were left with something like 40+ minutes to respond, prevent, argue once they heard the news. No time for diplomatic overtures or UN tantrums etc.

            So they did what they could – warned the Syrians (and their own people in range (yes there Russian troops in range – that did not please them much)) and took out as many missiles as they could. Nonetheless, the real damage the Americans did was to kill 14 Syrian civilians – including beautiful Syrian children.

            (While the Americans are not the most efficient bunch of people on the planet I doubt their vaunted Tomahawks have an actual targeted kill rate of something like 9 out of 59.)

            Read it all somewhere – can’t remember where. If I can find it again I’ll post it for you.

  • Carol Davidek-Waller

    In order to misinterpret Russia’s responses this badly, you’d have had to have been isolated from any knowledge of history or of current events and be high as a kite for most of your adult life.

    • Gary Sellars

      How many Murican politicians speak or read Russian?… yet these clowns think they understand her? These people suffer from a seriously severe case of cognitive dissonance…

      • ….I don’t think they have any cognition to dissonate.

      • Carol Davidek-Waller

        You don’t have to speak Russian to learn up Russian history or current events. I think their issues are drug related. Some form of amphetamine. Perhaps the same stuff the ISIS are taking……?

  • RichardD

    If the North Koreans wanted to help Trump get the Jew swamp slaves off of his back by looking like a fascist war monger that the swamp slaves and their criminally insane, blood sucking, baby raping, pedophile cult Jew masters crave. They’re doing a pretty good job of it.

  • AMHants

    They assumed the same of China. Does anybody remember, when the debt ceiling was due to implode, was it last May. Trump was hosting the Chinese President, the week before, and for a pre-dinner firework display, he thought it would be a good idea to insult his guest, with a 59 tomahawk attack on Syria? How many of those missiles got lost and how many failed to discharge their goodies? The planes at the Syrian Airport were taking off a couple of hours later. Were the Chinese impressed or insulted? Even if Trump’s grandaughter could sing a chinese poem.

    Russia and China border North Korea and are sitting patiently as they watch it all unfold. Allowing the toddlers in the nursery to have their hissy fit, before the adults have to step in and sort the toddlers out.