For the better part of the past two years, the liberal media has pushed the narrative that President Donald Trump is some sort of “puppet” of Russian President Vladimir Putin, largely owing to their fervent belief that Russia interfered in the 2016 on behalf of — and in collusion with — the Trump campaign.
That narrative has been used to suggest that Trump and his administration are “soft” against Russia, and somehow persists in spite of decidedly “hard” and tough actions the administration has taken against Russia over the past 18 months, such as economic sanctions and diplomatic expulsions, and pressure applied through energy production and even military activity.
Now the Trump administration is preparing to slam Russia with at least one, if not two, more rounds of sanctions that could prove devastating to Russia’s economy in response to the usage of a chemical weapon against a former Russian spy living in the United Kingdom in March, according to Reuters.
The State Department has concluded that Russia is indeed responsible for the use of a nerve agent known as Novichok against ex-GRU military intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia at their home in Salisbury, which left them sickened and hospitalized for months.
“Following the use of a ‘Novichok’ nerve agent in an attempt to assassinate UK citizen Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal, the United States, on August 6, 2018, determined under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (CBW Act) that the Government of the Russian Federation has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Wednesday, according to CNBC.
A first round of the new sanctions will likely go into effect on August 22, and will be followed by a potential second round of sanctions after 90 days if Russia is incapable of adequately meeting specific criteria laid out in the decades-old law, such as ensuring they’re no longer using biological or chemical weapons or allowing United Nations personnel to conduct on-site inspections of certain facilities.
The news of a additional economic sanctions from the U.S. against Russia hit the country’s already weak currency pretty hard, causing it to tumble even lower as compared to the U.S. dollar.
According to CNN, the first round of sanctions will target what are known as “dual use” technologies that are imported into Russia from the U.S., technologies that can be used generally but also for military or national security purposes.
While the export of most such sensitive goods to Russia will likely be denied approval by the State Department under the sanctions, there could be a few carve-outs of certain goods after case-by-case reviews are conducted into their intended use.
An anonymous senior State Department official told CNN that this first round of sanctions could effect “potentially a very great sweep of the Russian economy,” impacting upwards of 70 percent of the struggling nation’s economy and nearly 40 percent of the nation’s workforce.
“It is possible the trade affected could reach hundreds of millions of dollars,” the official added.
After the 90-day period has passed following implementation of these sanctions, and if Russia is found to be in non-compliance with international norms on biological and chemical weapons, a second and likely even more devastating round of sanctions will be automatically applied that will target Russian exports to the U.S.
That second round of sanctions is thought to be broad enough that it could even preclude Russian state-owned airliner Aeroflot from flying into the U.S. and would likely also include a downgrade of diplomatic relations between the two nations.
Yet, even in the face of this decidedly tough stance against Russia, some still hold to the illusion that Trump is in the pocket of Putin and sanctions like these — along with other tough actions against Russia — are merely politically-motivated distractions intended to quell the criticisms Trump has received over his purported relationship with the Russian leader.
“This clearly reinforces that the administration is tightening its sanctions approach to Russia,” stated former Defense Department official Mark Simakovsky, who is skeptical of the effectiveness of the sanctions. He added, “they could have taken this step months ago. They were late in taking this step by several months. The fact that they’re doing it now showcases that they’re under increased political pressure to target Russia for its malign activities abroad.”
Uh-huh. So if Trump hadn’t done anything, he’d be smeared as soft on Russia and in Putin’s pocket. But when he does impose crippling sanctions on Russia, he’s criticized for being too late and ineffective and merely acting under pressure to silence his critics. The man simply can’t win with his haters, regardless of what he does or doesn’t do.