New Sanctions Against Russia. How Will Moscow Respond?


Today it is clear that the US is an opponent of Russia and will remain so for a long time, says Dmitry Suslov, Programme director of the Valdai Discussion Club. Russia needs to adjust its state arms program, investing more in strategic deterrence and maintaining the system of guaranteed mutual destruction.

President Trump will inevitably sign the sanctions bill against Russia, approved by the Senate and House of Representatives, Dmitry Suslov said.

"There was already a signal from the White House official representative. Faced with constant accusations of links with Russia and internal political pressure on the issue of the Russian interference, having weakening domestic political position, Donald Trump simply cannot afford not to sign this bill", the expert said in an interview with

"This is completely meaningless, since the results of the voting in both the Senate and the House of Representatives suggest that the presidential veto, if it is imposed, will be overcome." To overcome the presidential veto, two-thirds of the votes are needed. The veto will not prevent the law from coming into force, but will only strengthen Trump's criticism from his opponents, give additional arguments to those who believe that Trump allegedly depends on Russia and intends to make concessions to Russia," the expert said. Trump's refusal to sign this bill would be a colossal step on his way to possible impeachment, Dmitry Suslov added.

As for Russia, first, it is necessary to come to a full understanding that improvement of bilateral relations is impossible for the foreseeable future, the expert believes. "The matter is that these sanctions institutionalize the Russian-American confrontation, the Cold war. The possibility of lifting these sanctions will appear only in two cases:  first - collapse of Russia, second - the fundamental revision of the United States' foreign policy and the final rejection of claims for global leadership, neither of which is impossible in the foreseeable future. That's why we are doomed to confrontation for a very long time”, Dmitry Suslov stressed.

Russia should be aware that the maximum of what it can do with Trump is the management of confrontational relations, the prevention of a direct military clash and the expectation that relations between our countries will deteriorate even more. Russia needs to give up illusions and to pursue a pragmatic foreign policy, the expert believes.

Second, it is necessary to form a package of response measures. "In this situation, it is necessary to respond symmetrically to the decisions that the Obama administration took against Russia on the New Year's eve, that is, to expel about thirty employees of the American diplomatic mission from Moscow and to arrest some of the US property in Russia. More severe position should be taken in regard to the American political organizations that operate on the territory of Russia. Their presence should be perceived as a security threat," the expert said.

Today it is already clear that the US is our enemy, and will remain enemy for a long time, Dmitry Suslov emphasized. "Russia needs to adjust its state arms program, reflecting the inevitable military-political confrontation with the US. There must be investments in strategic deterrence, in maintaining the system of guaranteed mutual destruction."

Perhaps, it is worthwhile to turn off cooperation with the United States on those issues which are necessary first of all for the US itself. For example, the US depends on Russia in the field of space cooperation. Perhaps there is a need to make adjustments and give up part of the programs of cooperation. "It is worthwhile to think about increasing military cooperation between Russia on the American continent - I mean primarily to build up cooperation with Venezuela," the expert said.

But first of all, we need to conduct a serious dialogue with Europeans, convincing them that the adoption of the sanctions package means the transformation of transatlantic relations into disadvantages for Europeans. "The "America First" principle is typical not only for Trump, but for all representatives of the American elite." Europeans need to get used to this idea and pursue a more differentiated policy, establishing cooperation with Russia," Dmitry Suslov said.

Europeans will wait and see whether sanctions are imposed against European companies. The sanctions package does not imply the automatic and mandatory introduction of US sanctions against those European companies that cooperate with Russia in the field of energy and, in particular, on the Northern Stream-2 project. This remains at the discretion of the administration. "Europeans will not retaliate before these sanctions are imposed by the Americans. If they are introduced, then an unprecedented event will occur and the Europeans will take economic measures against the US. Some of these measures have already been voiced by Jean-Claude Juncker. It would be unprecedented, because never before restrictive measures have been imposed by Europeans against their Big brother," Suslov concluded.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

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