Moscow warns the US against “Naval Blockade”

Moscow warns the US against “Naval Blockade”
Russia has issued a stern warning against any potential US attempts to restrict foreign trade with Moscow. Russian Federation is the successor state to the Soviet Union. Before its dissolution, the Soviet Union and the US were the key factions in world politics. They were briefly allies during...

Russia has issued a stern warning against any potential US attempts to restrict foreign trade with Moscow.

Background

Russian Federation is the successor state to the Soviet Union. Before its dissolution, the Soviet Union and the US were the key factions in world politics. They were briefly allies during the World War II but by the end of the war, they had become hostile. Brewing mistrust was one of the main reasons for the Cold War.

The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union (as well as the creation of Russia) seemingly brought an end to a period of uncertainty and turmoil. Relations even improved between the two nations during the tenure of Russia's President Boris Yeltsin but it took a significant step back under Putin

Relations between Russia and the US deteriorated in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea. It cited a controversial referendum for doing so. As a result, Barack Obama and his EU allies unveiled a coordinated set of sanctions against Russia and ordered it to leave Crimea. Russia responded with counter-sanctions.

Russia’s alleged interference in the US Presidential elections has further caused tensions in the ties. Despite Russia’s repeated denials, US imposed harsh sanctions on Russia. Russia has increasingly incurred criticism from the international community in the recent years. It has been accused of interfering and hacking the elections of the US and France. The UK has also warned the country for trying to interfere in foreign elections.

Analysis

Attempts to use the US Navy to block Russia’s trade would amount to a declaration of war, a high-ranking senator commented on the US internal secretary’s idea of impeding Russia’s energy trade through a blockade.

“A US blockade of Russia would be equal to a declaration of war under international law,” said the head of the Russian Senate’s Information Policy Committee, Aleksey Pushkov, commenting on a report that US Internal Secretary Ryan Zinke suggested the US could use the navy to block Russian energy from hitting Middle East markets.

Pushkov also called Zinke’s claim that trade expansion is the real reason behind Russia’s involvement in Syria “absolute nonsense.”

The very idea that Russia could potentially supply energy to the Middle East, which is literally “oozing with oil,” is absolutely detached from reality, Pushkov said. Indeed, Russia does not supply any energy to the region, which is itself a major oil exporter and has never announced plans to do so.

The Russian senator added that Zinke’s statement is “on par” with Sarah Palin’s claim that she was qualified to talk about Russia since “they’re our next-door neighbours, and you can actually see Russia here from Alaska.” The former Alaska governor made the statement in an interview when she was the Republican vice-presidential candidate in the 2008 US election.

Washington seems to be bothered by Moscow’s international trade. The Trump administration has been seeking to replace Russia as Europe’s gas supplier by boosting exports of its liquefied natural gas, even though Russian gas is a cheaper option for Europe.

US officials, including President Donald Trump himself, have repeatedly pressed Germany to pull out of the “inappropriate” Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which is set to double Russia’s natural gas transport capacity to 110 billion cubic meters. While Moscow has repeatedly stated that it is a purely economic project, Trump claims it will make Germany a “captive” of Russia.

Counterpoint

The US is not focusing on the energy trade alone, as it has also threatened to impose sanctions on countries buying Russian arms in what could be another example of competition between the two nations. These efforts, however, seem to be in vain as well.

Most recently, India cleared the way for the purchase of Russian frigates and air defence systems. Turkey also defied threats from the US and said it does not need anyone’s permission to buy Russia’s S-400 missile systems. Even close US ally Saudi Arabia is now in talks with Russia to purchase the same defence systems. Moscow has repeatedly denounced the US attempts to hamper its trade under various pretexts as unfair competition.

Assessment

Our assessment is that the US is trying to choke Russia’s foreign trade and deplete its foreign reserves. Russia’s economy is largely dependent on oil and natural gas export and a collapse of foreign trade will crumble Russia’s fragile economy. We believe that Washington is going after Moscow’s most important sectors in the economy to bring it to a grinding halt. We also feel that the sanctions will not be effective as Russia accounts for a majority of Europe’s natural gas and oil supply. 

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