The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, the legislation to sanction Iran, Russia and North Korea, passed the House 419-3 on July 25, passed the US Senate 98-2 on July 27, and finally on August 2, President Donald Trump signed it into law.
This event triggered a hysterical reaction in Russia.
The most typical is the title of the Konstantin Eggert’s article, published in the website censoru.net: “Russia and America are enemies again – now officially and the consequences will be huge for Russia.”
Here is a quote from this article, written prior to Trump’s signing the law:
“The status of Russia as an enemy has been officially recorded. Will Donald Trump sign this law or not, it does not matter. Congress will overcome his veto. And hardly the president will want to exacerbate matters at the height of the investigation of contacts between members of his family and employees of his pre-election headquarters with representatives of Moscow.
“…An attempt by Kremlin emissaries to intervene in the US presidential election (it seems that the main purpose of this operation was to abolish the “Magnitsky law”) provoked a chain of events that no one could have expected.
“For the first time in the last quarter of a century, the US political class has paid such close and unfriendly attention to Russia. The annexation of the Crimea, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict in the Donbas and the Kremlin’s interference in the Syrian conflict did not cause such a reaction. Now the Cold War-2 is seriously announced to the Kremlin.”
The Vladimir Frolov’s article at ehorussia.com is entitled: “Panic in the Russian elite and a sense of a historical dead end.”
Frolov writes: “The panic in the Russian elite is justified. The normalization of relations with the United States under Trump, which the Kremlin hoped for and which was seen as an important element of the ‘positive scenario’ of Putin’s future presidential campaign failed. (The idea of this scenario was: “Putin defended the interests of Russia in the difficult struggle with Obama, the US finally recognized our rightness.” ’ “)
“’Detente with America’ was a prerequisite for the transition to a ‘peaceful domestic development agenda’. Now it seems to be postponed forever. Supporters of further confrontation with the United States and Russia’s military-power foreign policy received new arguments.”
The panic struck not only Russian politicians but also economists.
The prominent financial analyst Stepan Demura entitled his article: “If Trump signs a law on new sanctions, this will kill the ruble.”
He writes:“I think that the collapse of the ruble will begin in August… The first target of the attack of speculators on the ruble will be 97 and 125 rubles per dollar. When the speculators will hit these goals – this year or the next – it’s hard to say. The exact time is not so important, the main thing is that the target indicators of the ruble exchange rate have become very clear.”
Demura expects the growth of many problems for the Russian economy.
“There will be a problem of impossibility of financing a number of state programs due to a lack of funds in the budget of Russia. Access to technology will be further restricted. Corporate defaults are also possible. Our ‘oligarchs’ liabilities already exceed their assets, and this move by the US Congress only aggravates the situation.”
The first reaction of Putin to the move by US Congress followed this Sunday evening, as the Russian President was speaking with the journalist Vladimir Solovyov on a nationally televised news show.
Putin said: “More than a thousand employees — diplomats and technical employees — have worked and are still working in Russia these days. Some 755 of them will have to terminate their activity.”
All Russian commentators are guessing, what will be Putin’s next action?
The prominent opposition journalist and historian Nikolai Svanidze said in his interview to the radio Echo of Moscow:
“We have nothing to retaliate with in economy… Close down the McDonald’s in Russia, as many suggest? I say it means shooting yourself in the leg. Because McDonald’s is really not American. It is only American in name. Our products. Our jobs. Well, let’s close McDonald’s. Well, those guys who work there will lose their jobs. That’s all. This is not retaliation. There is no retaliation. Because of the difference in economic potential. What can we come up with against the sanctions of actually the entire unified West? There is the 20-fold difference in economic potentials of Russia and the united West. This is actually a frightening situation. Because the retaliation will still be.
“Unable to respond economically, we will respond politically. And we will respond inside the country and outside the country. Inside it will be tightening the nuts. There will be a blow to the whole opposition and not one blow, but there will be a massive pressure on the opposition.
“The second direction of the response will be international. And here I do not exclude that there will be some rather adventurous actions possible as the response. Because we must demonstrate our brutality in response… I do not exclude, that there will be activation in Ukraine, activation in Syria.”
Many commentators share this opinion.