Russian President Vladimir Putin has yet to issue orders regarding Moscow’s possible response to the US’ new sanctions packages. Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, has revealed this and explained that insofar as Washington’s new sanctions have not gone into force yet, the Kremlin considers any response to be premature.
“In this case, the point has been that the fundamental principle is that of reciprocity, the principle of symmetry most of all in such situations. As for any kind of orders, then of course, Putin has not given any yet because there has been the announcement of new sanctions, information that they are being prepared or have already been prepared, but they are not yet in force,” Peskov told journalists.
“And, of course, without having precise information about what new sanctions Washington has devised, speaking of any responses would be incorrect,” Peskov qualified.
Peskov’s clarification that Putin has not ordered any responses to the US’ new sanctions comes on the heels of reports that Putin assembled Russia’s Security Council, comprising top military and intelligence officials, to discuss the sanctions, as well as statements from Moscow’s foreign ministry that a symmetrical response will indeed be prepared by the Kremlin.
The first package of Washington’s new sanctions includes a complete ban on exporting electronic devices and dual-use products to Russia, and the second package consists of banning Aeroflot flights to the US, further scaling back diplomatic relations, and a virtually exhaustive cessation of many US exports to Russia. The State Department has issued the ultimatum that the second package can be cancelled if Russia capitulates to the “Skripal conspiracy” floated by London and Washington and pledges that it has not and will not use chemical warfare.
Meanwhile, Russian experts interviewed by RIA Novosti have drawn attention to the fact that the wording of the US sanctions documents has been vague concerning state banks, and therefore could possibly lead to a ban on payments in dollars, a development that would be extremely painful for the ruble.
The fact remains however, that the sanctions have not gone into effect, and could be amended or abandoned at any time.
Not only would the new packages provide for the imposition of yet even more and harsher sanctions on Russia, which Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev has called a “declaration of economic war”, but they would also effectively see the US engaged in a full on economic war on nearly all fronts with many key countries in current international relations. The US has simultaneously sanctioned Turkey and Iran, initiated trade wars with its biggest trading partners – the EU and China – and has also imposed new sanctions on Venezuela in tandem with flipping the sanctions switch on and off with North Korea.
The Trump Administration’s heavy and persistent use of sanctions against a number of countries features as part of Trump’s strategy to redefine the US’ geopolitical relationship with much of the Eurasian continent, and instrumentalize trade reforms to advance domestic economic reforms seeking to revive US manufacturing. The aggressive imposition of sanctions has simultaneously seen both increasing cooperation between the states that fall under US sanctions, and Trump’s advertisement of the heavy hand of sanctions to his home audiences as a tangible part of his “Make America Great Again” and “America First” programs.
How Moscow will respond to Trump’s sanction frenzy and what implications such might have to Trump’s political battle with the deep state at home, will be seen over the sanctions preparation period of the next several weeks.