Commentary and translation by New Silk Strategies. Original Russian-language article from Ridus.
Are things really this bad with Russia? Can a country legally destroy a business in a country with which it is not at war based on the shoddy pretext that the CEO is a friend of the president of that country – and on an unproven assumption of wrongdoing? If there was wrongdoing, shouldn’t the US take the case before the UN? Oh, wait. The accused might be treated fairly, mightn’t he?
If Rusal CEO Oleg Deripaska took this case of blatantly unfair sanctions before the WTO, what would happen if the judges ruled fairly? Clearly, the sanctions are based on utter nonsense. One of the Russian oligarchs targeted by Congress is being sanctioned because he is a friend of a friend of Putin. Are we in the Twilight Zone yet? The sanctions are based on the hypothesis that Russia meddled in the last presidential election. But this in turn is based on the accusation that a privately owned Russian company had “trolled” in a way that favoured Trump’s candidacy.
None of this would hold up in a court of law, of course. If the WTO wound up trying this case, then, assuming the judges were fair, these oligarchs could not be subjected to sanctions. The company was not tied to the Russian government and therefore, even if it could be proved that it “meddled” in the elections, this would be tantamount to a foreign country charging the US government with a misdeed allegedly committed by Mark Zuckerberg (not a public official). Trump has said he wants to defy the WTO. If he does so, he had better not try to use that body to file a complaint against another state. Legal experts say you can’t have it both ways. But even if Trump decides to use the Wild West method, he could still be sued by Deripaska in a US court, where Russophobia is not grounds for anything.
We commented here and here on the unsavoury methods of giving the US an unfair economic advantage over other countries, notably Russia. Trump was accused of being too Russia-friendly. To shake this reputation and show how “tough” he is on Russia, he is going absolutely overboard and simply abusing that country, actually harming its economy and its people.
Trump seems to be doing state business the same way he has been repeatedly accused of doing business privately. USA Today interviewed hundreds of past employees and contractors who swear and declare he stiffed them – many of them small businesses, ie, the little people who voted for him thinking he was on their side. The court records of their lawsuits are on the books. It looks as if Trump made himself great by cheating. If these allegations hold water, then it looks as though he wants to make America great using the same methods. A lot depends on how you define “great.”
But things may not be as bad as they seem. Even if worse comes to worst, Deripaska is not the only competent business person who could take the reins of Rusal.
Did the United States manage to strike Russia in the heart?
The sanctions against Rusal have a second bottom, something that even many Western analysts do not realize, but which experts at Ridus see as though on an x-ray picture.
How quickly and unquestioningly Oleg Deripaska agreed to the ultimatum of the US Treasury shows that American sanctions have finally come to a close, says the Swiss Neue Zürcher Zeitung in an article entitled "Die Sanktionen Gegen Russland sind ein voller Erfolg für die Amerikaner" (The sanctions are a complete success for the Americans ).
Thus, the US clearly showed who is the real owner in Russia: the Russian government has not yet stirred a finger to help the owner of Rusal out of trouble. The proposed anti-sanctions in the form of a ban on the export of titanium and rocket engines, as well as the import of American medicines, are tantamount to a mosquito bite for the United States, which cannot be said about the Russians themselves.
"The signal of the Americans is unequivocal. Anyone could wind up on their next list, and official Moscow would not be able to help them," states NZZ.
How Deripaska Accelerates Trump’s Impeachment
The Swiss edition is guilty of wishful thinking, because the fate of Deripaska personally cannot be an indicator that the Americans control the Russian economy, said Leonid Geraskin, president of the Eurasian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.
"The Americans would certainly like to take over the management of the block of enterprises owned by Oleg Deripaska, because they are of strategic importance for us and for them," he told Ridus.
Obviously, we are talking about rare earth metals and other unique materials, whose imports from Russia the United States prefers not to advertise.
According to Geraskin, the sanctions of the US Treasury for this reason has struck the American entrepreneurs themselves much more than the Russian company.
"Generally, there is a feeling that some forces in the American establishment are purposefully surrogating for President Trump, so that a noble rage boils against him in the American business community. Now half of the business community is dissatisfied with him. After clumsy sanctions against Deripaska, when aluminum soared to exorbitant prices in a few hours, the second half joined the disgruntled. That is, until impeachment is at hand,” believes Geraskin.
Similarly, the allegations of NZZ that the Russian government has left Deripaska at the mercy of fate, are incorrect, adds Geraskin in his interview with Ridus.
"No one can get out without help. I can assure you with all confidence : Deripaska will not leave Rusal. But the Americans have once again gotten into trouble, creating big problems for themselves,” concludes Geraskin optimistically.
Previously, the president of the National Strategy Institute, Mikhail Remezov, told Ridus that the only way to save these and other companies under the sanctions is if the state produces the products they produce, at least in strategic reserves.
Rusal is the best example of what it can mean for a company to have its oxygen, in the form of access to foreign markets, primarily the American market, cut off. Although Oleg Deripaska still does not ask for charity on the panel, his example is a lesson to the rest of the "teammates."
The Swiss paper cannot see the forest for the trees: Economist Anton Lubich member of the political council of the Growth Party, faults the analytical abilities of NZZ, saying it is unable to see the mechanism between the attack on Rusal and the real reasons behind it.
"Oleg Deripaska in all this intrigue is just a lever with which the US presses one end against the Russian leadership, and the other against companies from third countries that cooperate with Russia. The United States is killing two birds with one stone, both of which are competitors of American metallurgists, including the European Union. It's like in billiards: they hit one ball to ricochet and hit several others that cannot be reached directly by the cue,” he offered his own analysis in a conversation with Ridus.
The ultimate intentions - which balls the US is trying to drive into the pocket, and which ones serve only as an "pusher mechanism" for this purpose – protrude like a stick from a bag, out out the extraterritorial nature of American sanctions, explains Lyubich.
"This is a direct warning to all countries of the world: you either work with sub-investment companies in Russia, or you conduct business with the United States and use the dollar as a settlement. In this way, Washington forces the whole world to join the anti-Russian sanctions - because if any company is faced with a choice on whose market to work, Russian or American, the choice is clear in most cases,” says the economist.
It is enough to view the statistics of the Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation to see without any analytical skill that the products of the metallurgical industry constitute the second line in Russian exports after oil, the expert notes. And the United States attacks Russia at these most vital spots.
"The attack on Deripaska is not a point bombing of a particular company. Now the Americans have gotten to the second largest group of Russian exports. If Moscow "does not take the hint,” the United States will also strike the first group - the oil and gas sector. This will squeeze Russia out of all the points at which it creates added value in the world available to it, "Lyubich predicts.
All accusations that Oleg Deripaska bears personal responsibility for the political actions of the Russian authorities are fairy tales for the layman, the expert believes.
"For example, an oligarch like Viktor Vekselberg, generally never dabbles in politics. He is far removed from politics and completely focused on investments, including in the US. Yet nevertheless, the Americans have also added his Renova to the sanctions list, not because he did anything wrong, but purely on the "class principle" - for the very fact of belonging to the club of Russian billionaires,” Lubich recalls.
Original article here: