Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the new US sanctions against Russia are similar to the Iron Curtain policies put in place during the Cold War.
Mr Ryabkov told the online newspaper Gazeta.ru that the US sanctions were “a blow to our hi-tech enterprises and industries.”
He added: “This is a revival of a system created in 1949 when Western countries essentially lowered an ‘Iron Curtain,’ cutting off supplies of hi-tech goods to the USSR and other countries.”
Yet it was the USSR that constructed the first Iron Curtain after the Soviet Union left behind millions of troops in Central and Eastern Europe after World War II. Soviet leader Josef Stalin attempted to capture Berlin with a military blockade, and the city was split among the Allies of WWII. Stalin died in 1953, but the USSR erected the Berlin Wall in 1961, which allowed Iron Curtain policies to continue and isolated Russia further from the West.
The term “Iron Curtain” was used loosely until British Prime Minister Winston Churchill referenced it in a speech in Fulton, MO, on March 5, 1946.
The US imposed sanctions on 7 Russians and 17 businesses that are headed by some of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest friends. One of the sanctioned officials is Igor Sechin, President and Chairman of Rosneft, Russia’s top petroleum company.
ExxonMobil and British Petroleum (BP) both have ties to Rosneft. BP holds a 20% stake in Rosneft and even said the company would use its ties to Russia to try to diffuse the tensions between the West and Moscow.
The sanctions might be working, too. If a company with a large presence in the US continues to do business with an entity on a US sanction list, that company could also be penalized. ExxonMobil plans on drilling in the Russian Arctic in August, but those plans might be interrupted since the deal was signed with Sechin’s Rosneft company.
“With Sechin being sanctioned it may complicate relations for Rosneft with Western companies,” said Mattias Westman, who oversees about $3.3 billion in Russia assets as CEO of Prosperity Capital. “Maybe some transactions will be threatened as a result, and perhaps Russia will counter, and they will be less keen for American companies to work on Arctic projects.”
A U.S. Treasury official said yesterday U.S. companies can still do business with Rosneft.
Ryabkov also slammed the new European Union sanctions and said they were only doing “Washington’s bidding.” However, the sanctions are not the same as the U.S.’s and only include people involved with the crisis in Ukraine. The EU imposed sanctions on Denis Pushylin, who is the self-proclaimed leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic. His group was accused of handing out anti-Semitic leaflets outside of a synagogue that said Ukrainian Jews would be forced to register. The EU’s sanctions did not include Sechin or Rosneft.