How improving relations with Russia threatens world peace

peace

 

2017/01/23 - 22:28 • Analysis & Opinion, Infographics, Russian

Article by: Olena Makarenko

The topic of lifting sanctions against the Russian Federations appears on the international agenda more and more often. However, there is no visible background for such discussions. The war in Ukraine is ongoing for the third year in a row. The ceasefire which was envisioned by the peace settlement of the Minsk Agreements is violated every day.

Some western politicians openly express their open support for Russia, like French nationalist leader Marine Le Pen, who voiced support for Russia’s occupation of Crimea.

However, those who invited a Russian minister to a G20 meeting despite sanctions might consider a warming of relations with Russia just a possibility to go back to normal business. Is this really possible to return to the good old days when there were no restrictions on trade with the Russian Federation, or is it just an illusion which only helps the Kremlin?

Discussions on easing sanctions

Politicians of different kinds expressed signs of readiness to warm up relationships with Russia.

In an interview to the Wall Street Journal, Donald Trump said that sanctions against Russia will be maintained for some period, but did not deny that they also might be lifted:

“If you get along and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody’s doing some really great things?”

Recently, the new Head of the OSCE and Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sebastian Kurz in the interview to Austrian media outlet Osterreich24 said that he wants to change sanctions against Russia from a logic of punishment to a logic of incentives.

The Minister of Agriculture of the Russian Federation Aleksandr Tkachov has been invited to the G20 meeting in Berlin by Germany despite sanctions forbidding his entrance to the European Union. The meeting will take place on January 22. Not only will this visit of the sanctioned Russian official give him access to western politicians to initiate a discussion on lifting sanctions, it will also demonstrate that sanctions can have exceptions and that these exceptions will be continued. Both points serve the Kremlin well.

Discussions about renewing the economic relationships with the Russian Federation have been also ongoing in Ukraine. Recently the Ukrainian media watchdog Detektor Media revealed how a fake news campaign in Ukrainian media was used for promoting the idea of restoring economic relationships with the Russian Federation.

The initiators of such campaigns are playing on the war fatigue of both Ukrainians and western politicians, and the desire to go back to a normal life. But following these desires by giving the Kremlin concessions will only aggravate the situation.

Samantha Power during her final speech in Washington stated that the policy of lifting sanctions will not lead to positive consequences:

“Now, some have argued that the most effective way to get Russia to start playing by the rules that undergird the international order is actually by easing sanctions. If only we reduce the pressure, they claim, Russia will stop lashing out against the international order. But they have it backwards: easing punitive measures on the Russian Government when they haven’t changed their behavior will only embolden Russia – sending the message that the best way to gain international acceptance of its destabilizing actions is simply to wait us out.”

A look into what Russia needs resources the most for prove her statements have an economic basis.

Russia’s defense expenditures higher than USA & majority of EU

One-quarter of Russia’s expenditures for 2017 are classified as “top secret,” amounting to RUB 800 bn ($ 13.5 bn)

Despite being actively involved in the conflict in Ukraine and Syria, Russia carefully hides facts of how this involvement influences its own people.

In Autumn 2016, the Russian government announced that the welfare budget will be reduced from RUB 13.1 trillion ($210 bn) to RUB 12.7 trillion ($203 bn). According to the Moscow Times, this spending cut already includes the government’s decision to give pensioners a one off payment of 5,000 rubles instead of indexing pensions at the rate of inflation.

However, some parts of the Russian 2017 budget were considered to deserve more attention.

By keeping its population in constant fear of a foreign attack, it justifies its enormous expenditures for the defense industry – not only weapons but also all accompanying costs.

Thus, Russia covers its military needs at the expense of ordinary Russians without asking them. In October 2016, Arnold Khachaturov, journalist of the Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta, described how Russia’s state costs are allocated. He says Russia’s state budget has set a record for opaqueness since the end of the Soviet era.

One-quarter of Russia’s expenditures for 2017 are classified as “top secret,” amounting to RUB 800 bn ($ 13.5 bn). The journalist explains that 70% of the secret articles of budget are usually used for the defense sector.

It turned out that these 800 bn are needed to pay for loans of the military enterprises ahead of schedule. The loans were taken for the large-scale rearmament program that then President Dmitry Medvedev launched in 2010. The amount was staggering – RUB 1.2 trillion ($ 20.2 bn) and was covered at the expense of other sectors – social and economic support of the population and investments in the civic sectors of the economy. However, these secret expenditures can also be used for housing, education, national economy, and culture. According to the author, they include expenditures for building houses for soldiers, payments for military educational institutions, and compensations for the families of killed soldiers.

He estimates that the real defense budget of the Russian Federation constitutes more than RUB 4,2 trillions ($ 70,8 bn) or 5,3% of its GDP in 2015, if they are included.

These indicators show that Russia’s defense expenditures are more than the US’s (3,1% of GDP) and than the majority of European countries (2% of GDP). In this regard, it becomes clear that the Kremlin’s top priorities lie in the military sphere, and the probability that any additional money will be used for military purposes is all too high.

Thus, calls for peace and lifting sanctions are likely to serve anything but peace.

Edited by: Alya Shandra

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  • veth

    Next President of France, Fillion want the sanctions quickly removed, but Russia must give a reason for it……he said………….like at least return Donbass back to Ukraine.

    • WisconsinUSA

      do you think he will beat the lady ?

      • veth

        Ms. Le Pen is no lady. Yes, in the French system yes, Fillion will win. (also pro_russian)

        • Eddy Verhaeghe

          Do not underestimate Macron…

      • Geralt von RIva

        she will possible have the highest percentage. but after 2 rounds conservatives and socialists will possible join their forces and elect another president and not her.

    • Rafael Hernandez

      The Promise will be that Ukraine must be dismembered

      • Brent

        The “troll dream” is more like it….since you’re advocating for the dismemberment of countries, I guess you won’t mind when China comes to reclaim Siberia???

        • Rafael Hernandez

          If Siberia becomes 60 percent ethnic Chinese and was illegally given by a chinese leader, when it was in the motherlanf 170 years, prior, then yes

          • Alex George

            Siberia is probably already more than 60 percent ethnic Chinese, so don’t worry about that. Same for the Far East. The incompetent bumbler Putin is presiding over the dismemberment of Russia.

            At the same time, his attempted theft of Crimea and Donbas will fail. These territories belong to Ukraine, and Russia has no right to them, historical of otherwise. Most of all, the Russian-speaking people of Crimea and Donbas have made clear that they do not want to be ruled by the Kremlin, hence Russia’s occupation is doomed.

    • Randolph Carter

      So does Russia propose that Donbass be “returned” to Ukraine in exchange for Crimea? What of the people in Crimea – are they to be relocated within Ukraine, assimilated (the most frightening) or will there be another diaspora? Personally, this smells like a deal with the devil. Once a foothold in established in Crimea, who is to say that Mariupol won’t be next? Or that hostilities in Donbass won’t resume? Russia’s record on honoring agreements is dubious at best, and I think “giving” them Crimea is opening the door for much more bloodshed and violence.

      • Alex George

        And the Ukrainian people won’t stand for it.

        Poroshenko understands this. He knows when not to push people too far, and this week he said there will never be an exchange of Donbas for Crimea

    • Mephisto

      the next French election will be between a russian scumbag and a russian scumbag. Russian scumbag in the US, russian scumbag in France, russian scumbag in several other countries. Already now they are trying to dismantle the EU. Trump said he would welcome the end of EU and hopes that other countries will leave the EU, he will make trade deals with GB to compensate for brexit etc. The next four years (Trump presidency) will be critical.

      • veth

        His impeachment is an formality. He is the most incompetent..(in all expects) President ever ‘elected’ worldwide……………………not to mention very Pro-Russia.

        • Mephisto

          he shows all the signs of a completely witting russian puppet, i.e. he is working pro-russia consciously. He is parroting russian propaganda, he is spreading his “alternative facts” to sow distrust in western media, he is eroding transatlantic ties, trying to break up EU, trying to lift russian sanctions, trying to weaken the US by proctionism. He believes more Putin and Assange than his intelligence agencies. Why was the GOP so stupid and allow for him to ever get elected despite plenty warnings about his character? The next couple of years will be thrilling.

          • veth

            LETS HOPE MONTHS………….

    • Mykola Potytorsky

      let’s include Crimea and 400 nukes for our defence forces and then we will talk

  • Oknemfrod

    >Sebastian Kurz … said that he wants to change sanctions against Russia from a logic of punishment to a logic of incentives.<

    He wants that? Fine, but with a tad of a head start. First, introduce real sanctions: impose total embargo, cut it off the SWIFT, freeze all dollar/euro-denominated assets (including those of the dwarf himself), summarily ban travel visas, etc. Then you can start chipping them off one bit at a time, commensurate with the acts of "good behavior" on part of the Kremlin – if need be, all the way to, but not beyond, the current level. That ought to satisfy Kurtz's yearning for his new "logic", and I bet the Kremlin dwarf would like it, too. Like, a lot.

  • zorbatheturk

    ruSSia is an unbelievably evil regime. The ruSSian bear must be caged and starved until it resembles a scrawny dog and is harmless.

  • Dirk Smith

    How long will it take the new administration understand that words with the Tambov mafia are meaningless? Everyone outside of Trump and Tillerson understands that any agreements or contracts with the Tambov mafia is simply giving them more time for more attacks on the West. Increase sanctions, remove the World Cup to a civilized country, and dismember third-world ruSSia like Yugoslavia. Let’s wrap this up. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/216fbc0fa51c4474a225063e146444d7772eb52cb2563b436da507ccc14cd186.jpg