How Russia Sees U.S. Sanctions

It is the macroeconomic course of Western nations, and above all the United States, that has become the root cause of most of the current problems.

In the last few days, the attention of officials and experts in the United States and other Western countries again focused on the implementation of the so-called Istanbul Agreements. And Russia, which suspended its participation in the mechanism for several days, is once more being accused of provoking a humanitarian crisis and famine in developing countries.

However, no one seems to take note that the reason for our decision, which has since been reversed, was an attack on the ships and port infrastructure in Sevastopol by Ukrainian drones. The assault was set up in such a way that it exploited the corridor for Ukrainian grain exports. In such circumstances, how could our specialists guarantee the safety of civilian ships along this route?

However, our arguments fell on deaf ears. The State Department and the U.S. Permanent Mission to the United Nations stated that they see no justification for our decision to suspend participation in the grain agreements. Their claim that such a move on our part leads to widespread famine is repeated again and again like a mantra.

The fact that only a fraction of grain shipments under the deal reached truly vulnerable nations is being widely disputed. Another fact, that if it were not for the sanctions Russia could cover a significant part of food shortages, is being hushed up. All the while our readiness to immediately send up to 500,000 tons of grain and 300,000 tons of fertilizers to the poorest countries is being criticized as “too little, too late.”

Meanwhile, the West continues to call the special operation in Ukraine—which they themselves provoked—the main source of the multiple crises in the global economy. They directly link the rise in prices and deterioration of energy and food security to our country’s actions.

However, if you look at it, it is the macroeconomic course of Western nations, and above all the United States, that has become the root cause of most of the current problems. Washington categorically refuses to accept the transition towards a polycentric system of international relations.

On the contrary, against the background of tectonic shifts, accompanied by the degradation of institutions and the erosion of the principles of collective responsibility, the United States is trying to shape the world according to its own “uniquely true” standards. Washington continues to insist on its “God-given” privilege to replace international law with “rules” invented by some unknown party.

At the same time, the United States with persistence worthy of better application is ignoring diplomacy and the United Nations Charter by trying to “punish” those who disagree with its approaches and to intimidate everyone else. Trampling the basic and seemingly sacred postulates of free trade, competition, and the inviolability of private property, they have imposed various restrictions and initiated commercial wars. They do not hesitate to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.

The number of sanctions rounds, as well as absolutely illegitimate unilateral restrictions, is already incalculable. Only the “blacklists” related to Russia include more than 2,500 persons. Vague sectoral and trade restrictions constantly supplement direct bans.

U.S. authorities dismiss the obvious: sanctions are increasingly hitting the countries that introduce them. The same embargoes on Russian resource exports are accelerating record rates of inflation, leading to price hikes at local gas stations, and aggravating the difficulties with supply chains. According to U.S. businesses, a recession is imminent.

In turn, incessant bans on cooperation with Russian companies, including secondary sanctions, cause disruptions in the supply of products to world markets. On the losing end are the poorer nations, to which our inexpensive and high-quality products are essential for ensuring economic, food, and sometimes national security.

By the way, very few people pay attention to the fact that the United States, with its destructive actions, causes damage not only to developing countries but also to its own allies, including those in Europe. Having induced European capitals to impose sanctions against Russia, setting them up for an uncontested rejection of the active and, most importantly, mutually beneficial economic dialogue with Moscow built over the years, Washington has achieved its old dream.

This dream is to deprive its overseas partners of the opportunity to effectively compete with the United States. To get them hooked on its own liquefied natural gas (LNG), as even French president Emmanuel Macron recently noted, the Americans sell to their transatlantic friends at prices three to four times higher than domestic ones. Apparently, this is the “democracy” markup for these energy resources.

In the energy sector, the “anti-successes” of the U.S. administration are especially obvious. First, the White House announced a quasi-crusade against the national energy industry. It explicitly stated that it is time for oil and gas companies to phase out domestic production and implored them to switch to wind, solar, and other “green” but often undertested innovations.

Then, against the background of the events in Ukraine, Washington prohibits the import of our energy resources to the United States. After that, it forces other countries to take similar measures, primarily in Europe. It came back to its senses only when such steps led to colossal fluctuations in fuel prices around the world and, above all, in the United States itself.

However, the very lack of political will doesn’t let Western countries stop and admit their mistakes. They even coined the term “Putin’s price hike.” Such clumsy decisions are detrimental to absolutely everyone. The recipe for “face-saving” developed in the Department of Treasury—the so-called “price cap” for Russian oil—leads a global economy to even darker corners of this kind of Knossos labyrinth. At the same time, the promised Ariadne’s thread—our willingness to sell “black gold” at a loss—was nothing more than a myth from the very beginning.

We will not ensure the well-being of others at our own expense. We will not sell resources to those who artificially hold back prices. Our message is clear: If the mechanism is nevertheless introduced, no one can guarantee that in the future someone will not try to extend this scenario first over gas, then over metals, and, as a result, over any type of goods that Western capitals might focus on at some point.

By the way, our surprise at such, to put it mildly, strange approaches is shared by many other countries, including the members of OPEC+. This is despite the fact that many of them are close allies of the United States. The decision to slow down production, taken by the forum in October, was merely a reaction to real market trends and not some kind of a political gimmick. Washington’s accusations against its own partners in some kind of “anti-American conspiracy” are merely another confirmation of the destructive nature of the current economic strategy of U.S. authorities. It also highlights the doctrinal crisis of the current model of capitalism, when the only thing the West can offer to the rest of the world is the far-fetched advantages of its own continued dominance.

The situation is aggravated by what happened to the Nord Stream pipelines. An attack on an infrastructure that is unique in terms of security is an extremely dangerous precedent. Any critically significant object, no matter where it is, now falls under threat. Moreover, this act of terrorism could not have been carried out without government involvement.

Obviously, this act of sabotage was aimed at completely breaking up the mutually beneficial energy ties between Europe and Russia. The goal was to radically switch regional consumers to expensive resources, be it foreign LNG or new clean technologies. In any case, ordinary citizens and whole industries got the losing hand. The process of the deindustrialization of the European continent is only accelerating. The risks of such a development are obvious, as well as the benefits for the United States, especially against the background of Washington’s declared desire to loop supply chains back on itself to build them using suppliers from only the “right” jurisdictions.

Incredibly, local strategists seem naïve enough to believe that such decisions are not capable of undermining the global position of the U.S. dollar (despite the fact that the level of public debt in the United States has exceeded an astronomical sum of $31 trillion). They take advantage of the opportunity to keep the printing press working.

At the same time, they offer absolutely amazing new “creative” restrictive measures. For example, the seizure of funds belonging to a foreign state without any trial or investigation. Meanwhile, the United States is ignoring the fears of other primarily developing countries regarding a sharp increase in interest rates. Poorer nations are being driven even deeper into debt.

Apparently, no one here thinks about the consequences of such steps for the world economy. Nor about the fact that companies and governments around the world are increasingly beginning to abandon the use of U.S. currency. The convenience and safety of its use were universally recognized but are gradually becoming a thing of the past. The dollar is being transformed by its own creators into a mechanism of espionage, blackmail, and sanctions, thus serving the political interests of the United States.

Against such background, the de-dollarization of world economic relations is progressively gaining momentum. The formation of new international payment systems is an inevitable process. Such arrangements will not depend on a single decision-making center, which means they will become safer and more democratic. Artificial restrictive measures on Washington’s part would be an interference but in the long run, would only spur the movement towards genuine multipolarity.

Russia categorically opposes the U.S. desire for a neocolonial re-division of the global economy, such as its attempts to standardize everything and introduce financial and technological monopoly in order to preserve Western dominance and to build a “stick and whip” system when capitals are faced with a choice between unprofitable deals and the threat of sanctions. Whilst in fact becoming slaves in economic, political, and at times socio-cultural terms, this is a path to nowhere.

Most of the world, including countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, agrees with the latter point. The weariness of Washington’s unilateralism is becoming increasingly apparent, as well as the lack of channels for normal, mutually beneficial cooperation.

It is equal dialogue with partners that the Russian Federation is focused on. It is vital that we find solutions, even if not ideal, that could make the world more stable and secure. At the same time, we do not propose replacing unipolarity with the creation of other two, three, or four centers of power. On the contrary, we stand for the right of any country to exist and develop freely. The current complex geopolitical situation cannot hold back our aspirations to build such interaction with other nations.

This is the basis for our work with friends within the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). These formats are not directed against anyone. They were created and are working to strengthen trust between the capitals. They do not rule out involving all interested states in this common drive, without dividing them into “right” and “wrong.” We appreciate that multilateral trade, economic, and investment cooperation are at the forefront of these formats’ activities. The idea is to achieve complementary integration without globalized depersonalization and promote good neighborly cooperation without dividing lines and artificial rules.

Of course, this does not exclude the importance of working with Western colleagues and economic organizations focused on Washington and its allies, such as the Bretton Woods institutions. However, we proceed from the fact that such a conversation should be based on mutual respect and a willingness to compromise and find a genuine balance of interests. This is the only way the international financial system will be able to rebuild itself, shake off the burden of the servant of the “golden billion” and help pave the way for true sovereign development of all countries without exception. Russia will contribute to such efforts in every possible way.

Anatoly Antonov is the Russian ambassador to the United States.