Russia: Trump Has Sanctioned Us More in Three Years than Obama in Eight

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov pauses during talks with the Cyprus' foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides, at the foreign ministry in capital Nicosia, Cyprus, on Thursday, May 18, 2017. Lavrov is in Cyprus for two-day working visit. (Yiannis Kourtoglou, Pool via AP)
Yiannis Kourtoglou, via AP

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a press conference on Tuesday that the Trump administration has made more sanctions decisions against Russia in three years than the Obama administration did in eight.

“I’ve lost count already, trying to sum up the number of decisions made by both the Obama and the Trump Administrations. The Trump Administration, by the way, has already long surpassed Obama’s by the sheer amount of persons and legal entities covered by these decisions,” said Lavrov, as quoted by Russia’s state-run Tass news agency.

Of course, Lavrov did not render this verdict in an approving manner. He grumbled that the United States has grown less interested in resolving international disputes through negotiations than Russia or China.

“Our American colleagues have basically long ago embarked on abandoning diplomacy as a method of conducting business at the international arena. Unless it is a very exotic diplomacy, comprised of primitive simple moves: a demand is put forth, and, unless the demand meets total capitulation, then sanctions are threatened, complete with an ultimatum terms, and, if there is again no capitulation, the US imposes those sanctions,” he complained.

Lavrov claimed Russia, by contrast, would “always be open for dialogue,” but the dialogue must be “equal” and “aimed at the search for a balance of interests.”

Contrary to Lavrov’s posture of victimization, the U.S. is not the only nation aiming heavy sanctions at Russia. The European Union voted last week to extend sanctions against Russia for its involvement in the Ukrainian conflict for another six months, maintaining sanctions that have been in place since 2014. 

The EU rejected a call from Russian President Vladimir Putin to relax these penalties in light of the coronavirus pandemic, insisting that the sanctions “do not impede Russia’s capacity” to deal with the virus.

Germany, in particular, wants even more sanctions against Russia to punish it for a massive 2015 cyberattack on the Bundestag (the German parliament) in which thousands of documents were stolen, including some of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s emails. Merkel said that she has long wanted to develop better relations with Russia, so it “pains” her to support additional sanctions.

Bipartisan pressure in the U.S. government is growing for more sanctions against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, which would bypass Ukraine and give Russia greater economic influence over Europe. Lavrov has stated the Nord Stream 2 project will be completed no matter what punitive measures or regulator actions America and European governments might take against it.

Russia and China have worked tirelessly for years to undermine sanctions as an instrument of American and European foreign policy, with a recent emphasis on renewed American sanctions against their client state Iran. 

The Russian and Chinese delegations are working to build support against U.S. sanctions on Iran at the United Nations. Lavrov wrote a letter in May to the U.N. Security Council that called U.S. sanctions against Iran “ridiculous,” “irresponsible,” and “absolutely unacceptable.”

On Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry excoriated the United Kingdom, France, and Germany for introducing a resolution against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency.

“The root cause of all difficulties and faults in the process of implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal has been and remains the destructive actions of the United States who unilaterally quit the JCPOA and to this day continues to systematically violate demands of UN Security Council Resolution 2231,” railed Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. JCPOA stands for Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name of the Iran nuclear deal.

China also opposed the European resolution at the IAEA, which was introduced with some reluctance by the remaining signatories to the JCPOA because Iran keeps violating the agreement, specifically by denying inspectors access to suspected former nuclear sites. 

The European powers said they want to keep the JCPOA alive but had no choice but to file a complaint with the IAEA, which called on Iran to stop blocking access to its nuclear sites. Iran claims the inspectors are only interested in the sites because of “fake” Israeli intelligence that they were used for secret nuclear activities.

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