Relations between Russia and the US grew worse again. On August 4, the US Department of State announced introduction of sanctions against two Russian companies, namely Rosoboronexport and Sukhoi. They are charged with breaches of the internal American law “On non-proliferation towards Iran” enacted in 2000. This law prohibits cooperation with Iran in proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The argument for the sanctions is more than strange. First, it is not clear how can activities of Russian companies be connected with an American law. Second, Russian companies have not supplied weapons of mass destruction to Iran.
Vadim Razumovsky, Deputy General Director of Sukhoi, states that Sukhoi does not have any cooperation with Iran now and has not had it for a long time. Razumovsky said, “We are accused of alleged breaches of cooperation with Iran. This is absolute nonsense. In the last eight years, we have not supplied a single nut to Iran.” Representatives of Rosoboronexport stated, “Our cooperation with Iran towards which no international sanctions are applied is carried out in strict correspondence with interstate agreements and is confined to supplies of only defensive armament. Similar supplies of armament and combat hardware to Iran are done by many foreign companies including those from allies of the US in NATO.”
Russian Foreign Ministry reacted to this fact too. The Foreign Ministry stated, “We do not consider such actions of the US Department of State acceptable. The matter is actually about another illegal attempt to force foreign companies to work according to internal American rules. Such sanctions that the US introduces unilaterally against other countries and their organizations represent an obvious political and legal anachronism. Moreover so when such actions are undertaken under far-fetched pretexts.”
The ministry adds, “The US actually punishes its own companies depriving them of a possibility of cooperation with advanced Russian enterprises.”
Officials of the Foreign Ministry also say that “our companies that have military technological cooperation with foreign countries act in strict correspondence with the international and Russian law norms including the obligations of Russia in the field of non-proliferation and export control.”
In its comment the ministry stresses, “The short-sighted action undertaken by the American party contradicts the spirit of the Russian-American partnership, adherence to which was once again confirmed by presidents of our countries at the meeting in St. Petersburg and definitely will impact quality of our cooperation.”
In turn, Ruslan Pukhov, director of the center for analysis of strategies and technologies, presumes that introduction of sanctions “is revenge of the US for the contract recently signed during the visit of Hugo Chavez to Russia for supply of 24 Su-30 airplanes and other armament.” Pukhov states that “sanctions have primarily a symbolic nature: they show discontent of official Washington with this or that enterprises. However, they cannot announce sanctions against Russia or against an entire industry and hence they introduce such local sanctions.”
According to the expert, the sanctions may become “a sufficiently serious problem for Sukhoi but will have no impact on operations of Rosoboronexport.” Pukhov points out that Sukhoi is working on development of a regional airplane of new generation and Boeing acts as consultant in this project. Pukhov says that introduction of sanctions may influence “the time of the airplane’s coming to the market and, what is most important, makes possibilities of sale of this airplane on the American market doubtful.”
Mikhail Margelov, chair of the international affairs committee of the Federation Council, has a similar opinion. Margelov believes that introduction of sanctions on the part of the US against two Russian companies is an example of dishonest competition. He adds, “Sanctions on the part of the US against Rosoboronexport and Sukhoi are absurd from the standpoint of international law and are discriminatory. They are an example of dishonest competition on the state scale.” Margelov stresses that thus the US places internal acts higher than international agreements and forgets that Russian companies are not under jurisdiction of internal American laws.
Margelov emphasizes, “The US can prohibit anything to their companies supplying weapons to Israel from which about a thousand Lebanese civilians have already died but Russian companies have worked and will work according to norms of international law and are subordinated to the Russian and not to American legislation.”
The opposition is discontent too. Leonid Ivashov, vice president of the academy of geopolitical problems and former director of the main department of international military cooperation of the Defense Ministry, presumes that Russia should respond to American sanctions against Rosoboronexport and Sukhoi with giving up joint military exercises with the US and with limitation of Boeing airliners supplies to the Russian market. Ivashov stresses that so far Russia manifests a “toothless attitude” in relations with the US still. According to Ivashov, the Kremlin should act more decisively and should react to American sanctions with sanctions of its own.
Thus, problems appeared in relations between the US and Russia again. Americans are discontent with achievements of Moscow in the armament business but cannot hinder them in the open. That is why they invented a far-fetched accusation of mass destruction weapons sale to Iran. Of course, this approach does not serve to the honor Americans. Meanwhile, Russian authorities could react to the US sanctions with more efficient measures than a simple statement of the Foreign Ministry. However, the Kremlin really demonstrates a toothless attitude somehow and this, of course, does not increase authority of Russia in the world.