In the West, in the matter of anti-Russian sanctions, everything goes on as usual: some develop and introduce them, others come up with ways to minimize damage to themselves
However, in some cases, the roles are even combined, that is, restrictions are first introduced, and then their initiators begin to flounder in attempts to get out of the swamp, which they themselves have organized. Zoom is showing a similar pattern right now.
Russia, on the other hand, uses calendar new, but essentially monotonous measures for its own benefit: from nationalizing elites to increasing technological autonomy.
At the moment, Washington is determining the candidacy of a special envoy who will lead the negotiations on the fate of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline.
According to Politico, the US Department of Justice has already approved two next packages of sanctions against the pipeline under construction. The new blacklists include the Swiss company Nord Stream-2 AG, which is responsible for the construction and further operation of the gas pipeline, and its head, Mathias Warnig.
The restriction draft is expected to be submitted to Congress for approval in May. True, this is not certain, since the final decision on new measures against the pipeline has not yet been made. Obviously, it will be directly related to the course of the negotiations, for which the White House is now looking for an emissary. And they will be conducted not with Russia at all, but with Europe.
In fact, this is the main problem for the Biden administration, on which representatives of both parties are consolidating pressure in Congress, demanding to stop Nord Stream-2 at any cost: Berlin has stubbornly rested, protecting the gas pipeline. And the democrats’ declared restoration of relations with Europe, seriously undermined by Trump, makes tough confrontational steps undesirable for the White House.
As a result, Washington hopes in negotiations to soften the intransigence of Western Europe, which defends a strategic project for itself. And the gas pipeline, meanwhile, as journalists remind, has already been completed by 96 percent.
Although there is a sanctions topic, where the Americans are doing a little better. Almost simultaneously with the insider, Politico Bloomberg announced the impending new measures of punishment for Russia for interference in elections and hacker attacks. In addition to replenishing regular black lists with “people close to Russian President Vladimir Putin”, the administration is considering the possibility of expelling “Russian intelligence officers to the United States under diplomatic cover”.
True, here, too, “side effects” are inevitable for Washington. As Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov recently noted, the United States has unleashed a visa war against domestic diplomats, which is why both missions face difficulties and a shortage of personnel, including technical staff. However, if the employees of the Russian embassy “endure the hardships and hardships” of their service, then the Americans have repeatedly complained about the unbearable conditions in which they now have to work, which includes cleaning snow outside the embassy building and mixing disinfectant solutions by the hands of high-ranking diplomats. The matter came to the end, not for political, but purely technical reasons, of the activities of two consulates – in Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg.
In the meantime, in Washington, the bureaucratic process is going on as usual, Western business is increasingly forced to spin as if in a frying pan.
Right now Zoom is trying to pass between Scylla and Charybdis. Providing videoconferencing services and getting rich on the pandemic, the company, trying to adhere to the current agenda, banned the sale of access to the service to government agencies and state-owned companies in Russia and the CIS.
However, a few hours later, Zoom made an attempt to reverse, assuring that it was “in the process of developing an approach to the market”. A company spokesman clarified that “new and existing users – both in the public and private sector – can request the purchase of Zoom accounts through our website directly”, rather than through distributors.
The company’s nervous rush is understandable: over the past year, a huge number of institutions connected with the Russian state, in particular universities, have become its clients, bringing in the aggregate a solid profit. Now they began to massively and urgently go to alternative platforms. At the same time, the announced innovation did not affect the authorities in any way, since they were not users of the service anyway.
In general, the innovation was a clean shot in the foot for Zoom, as it entailed a massive outflow of large commercial customers to competitors, without causing the slightest inconvenience to the Russian state itself. And at the same time Moscow was presented with another impressive argument in favor of the need for Russian citizens and organizations to switch to domestic IT developments.
In recent years, the topic of sanctions has become a familiar and often uninteresting background both for various processes within Russia and for international relations. But in this routine, the fundamental changes that the very nature of this phenomenon has undergone over the years have remained almost unnoticed.
In a globalized unipolar world, sanctions were indeed a tool to strengthen the existing system. It was possible to live even under the most severe restrictions, which was proved for many years by both Iran and the DPRK, but the price was paid for it a lot – both by the quality of life of citizens, and by the losses of the national economy, and by technological lag. The sanctions then meant the deletion of the country from the modern developed civilization with the appearance of problems at every step, whether it was difficulties in the implementation of high-tech projects due to the need for foreign competencies or the banal impossibility to pay in a store with a bank card due to the unavailability of SWIFT and the lack of a national alternative.
The flywheel of anti-Russian sanctions, launched seven years ago, aimed to have a similar effect on our country. But instead, the process gradually turned into an end in itself, and then completely began to contribute to the exact opposite result.
The sanctions erode both Western unity and the global system as a whole, with the US leading the way in it. What ten years ago was a mechanism for the technological slowdown of “rogue countries” has now become an instrument for stimulating their development.
It remains only to speculate the reasons why Washington continues to disperse the process that has become openly harmful to it. Perhaps the American establishment, in their blinkeredness, simply does not see the true essence of what is happening. And perhaps, even realizing the reality, they simply cannot stop there, despite the fact that their own actions are quickly leading to the final destruction of the hegemony of the United States in the world.
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