A New Blow against Russia: Sanctions Against Russia’s Military-Industrial Complex

Photo: Russian Ministry of Defence
Photo: Russian Ministry of Defence

A proposal was made in the US House Committee on Armed Services to empower the US president to introduce sanctions against arms contractors affiliated with the Russian military-industrial complex. The proposal has been published on the committee’s site under the auspices of a bill on US Defence Department expenditures and policy for 2019.

The essence of the agreement

According to the bill, sanctions will be introduced against all those who “support Russian industry, with a focus on the supply chain of the Russian defence industry that deals with the production of key military equipment and advanced units of conventional arms”.

Should the bill be passed, 120 days after its adoption the US president must present Congress with a report on delivery channels.

In defence of US terrorists

What is important, is that (if the bill is passed) widened sanctions against “state sponsors of terrorism who also receive equipment from Russia” will also be included. Therefore, the breadth of the document will allow for the punishment of any government that is inconveniencing the US. This is first of all clearly a hint towards the official government in Damascus, which is coming under more and more pressure as the Syrian elections approach.

What is even more important, is that according to the bill, the American president has the right to skip over those persons whose activities are important to US national security.

Thus, if the bill is passed, any pro-American forces in active warzones will acquire additional support.

Supporting US “national security goals”

This is, as it were, a denigrating test of loyalty: if purchasers of Russian arms manage to prove, that they are “directly supporting US national security goals” and end “relations in the military sphere or lessen dependence on the Russian defence sector”, Washington has the right to stop the introduction of sanctions for 180-day periods. This is about the introduction of amendments to chapter 231 of the “Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA). 

It is noted, that during the 120 days after the law is passed, the president must present a report to the US Congress with information about delivery channels used in Russian arms trading programs.

Reasons behind for the bill

According to a TASS source, the reason for the introduction of this amendment (the author of which is the chairman of the House Republican Committee, Mac Thornberry) were appeals to Congress made by Pentagon head James Mattis. He has declared earlier, that the application of the sanction law is capable of paralysing part of American domestic and foreign policy. Recently, Mattis has made several statements that contradict the opinions of the establishment and the hawks (especially on the Syrian question). It is he who said that the Pentagon is not looking to involve itself in the Syrian Civil War.

However, part of the “US National Defence Strategy” was published in January 2018. It defines the main priorities of US defence policy and the American military machine’s action principles; it also marks China and Russia as the US’ main competitors. The change in military strategy logically follows from the new US “National Security Strategy” of 2017.
Pressure on Russia will definitely continue to mount, and the latest bill is geared towards the facilitation of reasons to accuse Moscow of new crimes such as “support for terrorism”, “lobbying”, “interference in elections” etc. As the military-industrial complex is currently one of the strongest areas of Russia’s economy, the US is, naturally, attempting to strike at the Russian economy as well.

However, the US attempt is more of a declarative character geared towards the manipulation of American allies that are committing the sin of making friendly overtures towards Russia. The Americans have the following problem: Russia is the world’s second exporter of arms. Having analysed open sources, the American publication Business Insider reached the conclusion that Moscow has delivered domestically produced arms to nearly a hundred countries.

It is also important that Russian arms producers are providing arms to countries that are not prepared to think about alternatives. The director of the “Russia and Eurasia” programme of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, Olga Oliker, noted, that it “is hard to imagine that the US would turn against India because India buys the majority of its weapons from Russia. The Turks have also made it very clear that they will do what they think is necessary” (citation from RIA Novosti).

Translated from the Russian by V.A.V.