‘In the interests of national security, US sanctions against Russia may be lifted’

Putin-Trump meeting in Hamburg, Germany in July 2017 (Image: screen capture)

Putin-Trump meeting in Hamburg, Germany in July 2017 (Image: screen capture) 

Analysis & Opinion, Politics, Russia

Talks between representatives of two governments are often not about what the participants say they are and sometimes not even important for what was really discussed. Instead, it is the fact of the talks and the way in which one or the other side presents them that are what really matters.

That certainly appears to be the case with the visit by three top Russian security officials, including two under sanctions, to Washington, a visit that the sides say was focused on cooperation in the struggle against terrorism but that many in the United States was about much more besides.

However that turns out to be – and however inappropriate one may believe that any such meeting is – the reaction of the Russian media suggests that the Russians got precisely what they wanted: an official US government declaration that sanctions can be lifted “in the interests of national security.”

Responding to criticism that Washington had allowed into the US two officials under sanctions, the State Department said that “in the interests of national security, US sanctions against Russia may be lifted,” a declaration that the Russian media have focused on today in ways that suggest Moscow wanted to use the meeting as a way to force Washington to remind everyone of that.

For Russian coverage focusing on that statement, see among others snob.ru, novayagazeta.ru, meduza.io and spektr.press.

Few binding Congressional actions regarding foreign affairs are passed, however large the majorities in either or both houses, without what is typically referred to as a national security waiver, a grant to the president of the right to suspend the provisions of these actions in the name of national security.

President Trump has clearly decided not to follow through on the intent of the August 2, 2017, personal sanctions act: His administration has provided a list of sorts of Russian officials who might be subject to such sanctions, but he has not imposed any new sanctions on them or others since the measure was passed.

The Kremlin is clearly counting on him to continue that course, and the meeting of the Russian security chiefs with their American counterparts in Washington was yet another clever move to remind everyone — including officials in the American capital — that in the name of “national security,” the president can ignore most Congressional actions.

Vladimir Putin is certainly hopeful that Trump may use that justification to lift not just sanctions on two senior intelligence officers but on other US sanctions more generally.

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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Микола Данчук

    Considering Trumps preferences in governance, why wouldn’t Putin be hopeful?
    Aren’t sanctions just a tool to be manipulated by those in power for their own benefit?

  • svend lykkegaard

    Mayby, but I am not so sure, that he want to. Trump must have learned by now, that he cant trust Putler, and besides if he try to lift sanctions, he will have very big problem with the congress.
    Another news. A good one. In Syrien a Russian SU is shot down and thi pilot killed. I hope they have more rockets and shoot down every Russian airplane.

  • Ihor Dawydiak

    Theoretically, Trump does have the ability to thwart the almost unanimous will of the US Congress in regards to US sanctions imposed against Russia citing the “national interest” of the USA but what would be the cost to his Presidency? More specifically, would Congress then support his internal agenda such as building a wall on the US border with Mexico? These are matters that Trump will be forced to take under consideration whether he likes it or not. It takes two to tango and this dance is definitely a tango.

  • zorbatheturk

    Putin wants a return on his investment in Trumpov.