“Sanctions from Hell”: Panic for Russia or Dead End for Washington?

By Ruslan Ostashko


By Ruslan Ostashko – 

On Facebook all the rage is about the new sanctions. And not only there, of course. Amidst the rise of the dollar, a deafening choir performing the operetta “Nouveau!” Is trying to block the voices of those who are not prone to hasty conclusions. But you can’t strangle our song, you can’t kill it.

Let’s put aside hysterical shouting and see what Washington is going to do against Russia and what it is threatening us with. Let’s hit the road.

Here is what the bill being waved around by American legislators shouting that they will kick everyone’s ass is all about.

Prepared by senators Lindsay Graham, Robert Menendez, Corey Gardner and Ben Cardin, the text actually begins with an appeal to President Donald Trump. In particular, Trump is urged to support efforts to counteract interference “by the Government of the Russian Federation and to work to prevent interference by that Government and other foreign state actors in United States institutions and democratic processes.”

The second wish is to “publicly call for the Government of the Russian Federation to return Crimea to the control of the Government of Ukraine, end its support for separatist violence in eastern Ukraine.” This paragraph also mentions “occupation of and support for separatists on the territory of Georgia and Moldova.”

Another demand (again to President Trump) is to call on Moscow to refuse to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who, according to the authors of the bill, continues to “commit war crimes.”

So, wait… who’s the bill against? Against Russia, or against the President of the United States?

Based on the available information, it turns out that the main goal of this initiative of American Senators is not to allow Trump to reduce tension in relations with Moscow at any cost.

Thus, they are in fact operating on the principle of “beat your own so that strangers will be afraid“. The bill does not contain anything new. It only throws together in one batch all the sanctions that have already been imposed on Russia, as if it is codifying them. Well, cheers! This doesn’t make us hot or cold…

Note that nothing has changed yet. The American bill has not been adopted, and the course has already crept up. This can be explained by the fact that investors are timid. But not only – there are other arguments as well.

Here is what what the liberal newspaper Kommersant writes: The situation on the market is such that several factors are working against the ruble. Its weakening is also facilitated by the conversion of dividends of the largest Russian companies. The season of dividend payments in 2017 ended in July with payments on Gazprom and Surgutneftegas shares (190 billion rubles and 28 billion rubles, respectively). At the end of July, analysts called the sale of foreign currency earnings for dividend payments one of the reasons for the strengthening of the ruble to 62 rubles/$. Now the reverse process has begun…

I am asked about the reasons for the sinking of the ruble. It is clear that the panic around the “sanctions from hell” played a role. But note how the day before, in ads that cost money (!), Khodorkovsky’s “Open Media” was pushing this panic on social media. In other words, Khodorkovsky is paying to spread panic.

The conclusion is obvious: we are dealing with a well-planned attack. But will sanctions cause us any harm if the crowd of investors simply won’t believe they will? And if they don’t break the ruble? This is what we are seeing. After all, this is not the first time, and it is long since time to get used to it. Remember the forecasts of the dollar for 80 rubles? And the dollar for 200? Where are their authors now, if they haven’t been hiccuping for a few years?

Exactly in the same place will go all the authors of the latest forecasts, because there are no objective reasons for the fall of the ruble. Sane media that is not prone to liberal hysteria for Khodorkovsky’s money is writing about this.

There is no need to be afraid of devaluation. It often happens on the stock exchange, after a couple of days of sales investors calm down, and the rates return to previous levels. Moreover, there are no other negative factors on the horizon.

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First of all, the price of oil is still above $ 70.

Secondly, we have accumulated huge international reserves. In the potbelly of the Central Bank is now $460 billion and if necessary, some of this money can be put on the market to smooth the fluctuations of the exchange rate.

And thirdly, US Congress will hardly want to opt for a harsh scenario. Most likely the sanctions will be softened, as has happened more than once under the pressure of American business, which has great weight in foreign policy.

Pay attention to the third point, because in addition to sanctions from Congress, the State Department has announced that once again it will punish Russia for the “highly likely’ poisoning of the Skripals. How will Russia be ‘punished?’ Here is an extravaganza.

It turns out that we are dealing with a potential ban on exports to Russia of goods that may be related to national security. At the same time, Russia has been posed an ultimatum: if it does not provide Washington with convincing guarantees that it has not used chemical and biological weapons, then new sanctions will follow. Among them will feature a decline in the level of diplomatic relations, strict restrictions on exports and imports, as well as the suspension of Aeroflot flights to the United States.

Let’s go point by point. They want to reduce the level of diplomatic relations. All right, have the Ambassador recalled. What is that to us? The entire property of the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the US has already been stupidly and arrogantly squeezed. They would be happy to break another international agreement, but there is nothing more to squeeze out. Do you need an American Ambassador in Moscow? I don’t.

The second point is strict sanctions on exports and imports. Well, what goods “related to national security” do we buy from them? None. It is they who buy our rocket engines and aviation titan. And those American manufacturers who buy vital components from us have a powerful lobby in the Congress. So these old clowns like McCain are unlikely to let the state Department turn around.

The third point is the suspension of Aeroflot’s flights to the United States. Wait a minute, I heard that somewhere. Ah, yes, that was in April, when Aeroflot itself said it might stop direct flights to the States, the reason being that Washington is deliberately delaying the issuance of visas to pilots and crew members. The air carrier has already asked for help from diplomats and the Ministry of Transport.

In other words, America is just showing off – our company itself wanted to cancel flights, but the Washington loser snatched it.

So how did this affect the ruble exchange rate then? It didn’t. So why should this lead to devaluation now?

You see, when we begin to delve into the subject, dig a little further past the hysterical headlines, then all these supposedly new steep sanctions no longer look like a “double blow” in the style of an ancient militant with Van Damme, but rather look like a pathetic attempt by a decrepit hegemon to pressure Russia with at least some levers.

Let them pressure us. Due to limited mental capacity, they do not think beyond two-way combinations. That is, they do not understand that by using these levers, in the future they are depriving themselves of the opportunity to use them, as has been the case with a bunch of other levers.

If you, I, and millions of our fellow citizens don’t rush in a panic to buy dollars tomorrow, then the ruble will not sink. It is precisely on panic that all these loud headlines and strained crowing depend.

Keep calm, and soon we will see another series of lamentations by the “Putin betrayed us” crowd when the ruble goes up again, and suddenly the sanctions will have an effect on our country directly opposite of that expected by Washington’s political geezers. 

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