Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 28.10.2017
On October 27, the United States brought in the first round of non-proliferation sanctions against Russia. These sanctions are regulations under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) that was signed into law on 2 August 2017. Sanctions against Russian entities were entered under the CAATSA provisions “Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act of 2017.” The sponsors of the CAATSA specified that the “countering Russian influence” provisions were aimed at deterring further Russian aggression against Ukraine and against the Syrian people, and also at boosting Ukraine’s energy and cyber security.
The sanctions just entered by the US against Russia fall under the “transactions with Russian defence or intelligence sectors” provisions of CAATSA. The entities listed are sponsors of war crimes and crimes against humanity. They’re responsible for the invasion of Europe in Ukraine – in Crimea and Donbas – and for the bombing of civilians in Syria.
Here are some notable sanctioned war production entities that were listed on October 27. Almaz-Antey Air and Space Defence Corporation JSC is the producer of the Russian BUK missile complex which shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on 17 July 2014 and killed 298 people; Almaz-Antey produced misleading ‘evidence’ to try to taint the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) criminal investigation. Kalashnikov Concern JSC produces the AK 74 assault rifle which is used by the Russian armed forces invading Ukraine and which are now in combat against Ukrainian armed forces in Donbas; Eduard Ioffe, deputy CEO of arms producer Kalashnikov, and Aleksander Omelchenko, top manager at Kalashnikov, were sanctioned as individuals by Canada on 18 March 2016. Oboronprom OJSC produces military helicopters, including the K-52 attack helicopter; on 22 July 2017 Russia flew a K-52 10 kilometres deep into Kherson region, which was a reckless provocation on the usually quiet Crimea front of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG is a producer fighter jets; this month Russia gave six MiG 29 fighter jets to Serbia for free, in an attempt to keep Serbia in Russia’s orbit and not go the way of newest NATO member Montenegro.
The unholy trinity of Russian security and spy services is sanctioned by the US: the Federal Security Service (FSB); the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR); and the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces (GRU). The FSB created the terrorist organizations, so-called “DPR” and “LPR,” in whose name Russia occupies and oppresses parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine. GRU agent Igor “Strelkov” Girkin led the “Spetsnaz” special forces troops which spearheaded Russia’s invasion of first Crimea and then Donbas. All these agencies are active in subverting democratic institutions in Western countries. The Chekists from the FSB, the SVR, and the GRU achieved notable success attacking the referendum in the Netherlands on 6 April 2016, the referendum in Britain on 23 June 2016, and the presidential election in the United States on 8 November 2016.
US sanctions against 33 Russian defence sector entities and six intelligence sector entities is a start, but it is not nearly enough to counter Russia’s total war against the West. It is good that the piecemeal sanctions of 2014 – when Russia first began to invade Europe in Ukraine – have expanded and strengthened to the sectoral sanctions of 2017 – now that Russia is also bombing Syrians and attacking Western democratic institutions everywhere. What is needed, though, are serious economic measures to to stop Putin and stop the war. These measures should be an embargo of Russia, a blockade of Russia, and a ban of Russia from the SWIFT international payment system and from global financial markets. Russia must not have the money to buy the shells and the rockets it is firing at Ukrainians. Russia must not have the money to buy the bombs it is dropping on Syrians. Russia must not have the money to bribe corrupt officials around the world. US sanctions announced on October 27 are a good step. Now its up to all Western allies to harmonize sanctions and strengthen them substantially. Defending Western civilization from Putin’s “special war” attacks is the good fight. It’s the fight to stop Russian aggression, to save lives, and to bring peace to Europe.