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Trump Pulls Back on Russian Sanctions, But Deep State Still Moves Ahead

In a controversial move, President Trump has decided not to renew sanctions against Russia, said the US State Department on Monday.

The announcement has sent both opposition Democrats and Neoconservative into a fury, with Trump’s detractors claiming Trump is being ‘too soft’ on Russia and that retaliatory sanctions are needed to punish Moscow for alleged ‘election-meddling’, although no actual real evidence has ever been presented to validate the official conspiracy theory which was enshrined in policy under Barack Obama.

The government had until Monday to take two steps under a law passed by Congress last year in the wake of the 2016 presidential campaign. The first required the U.S. to slap sanctions on anyone doing “significant” business with people linked to Russia’s defense and intelligence agencies, using a blacklist the U.S. released in October. The second required the administration to publish a list of Russian “political figures and oligarchs” who have grown rich under President Vladimir Putin.

“We estimate that foreign governments have abandoned planned or announced purchases of several billion dollars in Russian defense acquisitions,” claimed State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert. Unfortunately, former FOX spokesmodel Nauert she could not provide any evidence to substantiate her claim.

Still, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Tuesday that there will still be sanctions against a new “oligarchs list”, but still emphasized that the names are not necessarily subject to U.S. sanctions. Bloomberg said:

“There will be sanctions that come out of this report,” Mnuchin said in testimony before the Senate Banking Committee.

Oddly, the US Treasury’s ‘oligarch list’ is strikingly similar to Forbes’ richest Russians list. CNBC explains:

The U.S. Treasury Department’s list released Monday detailing 210 Russian oligarchs and close political affiliates of President Vladimir Putin bears a striking resemblance to a list of Russia’s richest citizens published in Forbes Magazine in 2017.

In fact, all 96 oligarchs listed in the unclassified annex of the report, who have a net worth of at least $1 billion, can be found in Forbes’ ranking of the “200 richest businessmen in Russia 2017.”

“On July 28, the US Senate voted 98-2 to adopt the new Combating America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). President Donald Trump had little choice and signed it into law on August 2, although the main aim of the law was to make sure that the president could not revoke the sanctions against Russia because of its military aggression in Ukraine on his own.” (Newsweek)

That’s the main US set-piece in terms of keeping the pressure on in  Ukraine, but it’s not clear whether the US policy is really beneficial even to US objectives of punishing Russia and ‘encouraging good behaviour’ – but are the sanctions really working?

Far from being an effective tool of diplomacy, there is now mounting evidence that they might even be helping Russia.

Even NATO’s anti-Russian megaphone, The Atlantic Council, have been forced to admit reality, that this latest round of sanctions will ultimately benefit Russia and Putin. Senior fellow Anders Åslund explains:

“If this excerpt of the Kremlin phone book will have any effect, it will solidify the Russian elite behind Putin, while the authors of CAATSA aspired to split the Russian elite and offer prominent Russians the option to live safely in the West.

Many businessmen on the Forbes list are citizens of countries other than Russia and have lived abroad for years. In no way have the US authorities proven that these people have done anything wrong.

The main beneficiary of this list is Russia’s president. The question arises why the secretary of the treasury derides US sanctions on Russia and legislation signed into law by the president.”

This reality is as true now as it has been since 2014. The more the US senselessly targets Russian oligarchs, the more these billionaires come to realise that the US intends to harm Russians, for no other reason than shore-up a domestic US political agenda, and ultimately drive profits for a US-based defense industry. And those oligarchs will gladly bring their cash home to Russia – which means more liquidity for Russia’s financial institutions.

READ MORE RUSSIA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Russia Files

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We are a North American and European-based, grass-roots, independent blog offering geopolitical news and media analysis, working with an array of volunteer contributors who write and help to analyse news and opinion from around the world.
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