by Ulson Gunnar
June 06, 2016
US sanctions aren't just hurting everyone including the US, they are
The US State Department's Radio Free
Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) notified readers of a diplomacy
campaign by the United States aimed at "urging" Europe to maintain
sanctions against Russia.
While the US claims the necessity of
these sanctions are self-evident and beneficial to the US and
Europe, such campaigns would not be needed if that were truly the
industries have been the first to collapse,
not Russia's, amid
US-led sanctions on Moscow.
The article titled, "U.S.
Sends Envoy To Urge Europe To Maintain Russian Sanctions,"
The United States is dispatching an
envoy to Paris and Berlin on June 7 and 8 to try to convince
European allies "of the importance of maintaining sanctions
pressure on Russia," the U.S. Treasury said on June 3.
The sanctions, RFE/RL claims, are a
result of Russia's involvement in neighboring Ukraine's downward
spiral, which ironically enough, began not with Russian involvement
but with that of America.
Between 2013-2014 the United States,
with its own senators traveling to Ukraine and taking the stage at
US-backed protests in Kiev, quite literally propelled a violent
Neo-Nazi putsch into power.
Since then, Ukraine has unraveled. Rather than taking responsibility
for yet another failed US intervention, US policymakers have instead
decided to shift the blame on Moscow.
The ability to hold up US-EU sanctions
against Russia as a means of legitimizing this shift of
responsibility is key to the continued underpinning of Western
support for the current regime in Kiev, and Washington's continued
belligerence toward Moscow.
are a Geopolitical Wrecking Ball
Like a geopolitical wrecking ball, US intervention in Ukraine first
destabilized and destroyed Ukraine's economy, before brushing into
Russia and now with sanctions ongoing ever since, the effects have
swung back to hit Europe and even the United States itself.
Ukraine since Soviet days has enjoyed several notable
accomplishments in the field of heavy industry. The legendary Anatov
aircraft company is headquartered in Ukraine and produces some of
the largest heavy lift aircraft in the world.
The New York Times in 2014 would report in its article, "Aviation
Giant Is Nearly Grounded in Ukraine," that:
The crisis with Russia that erupted
in February terminated Antonov's most promising, albeit already
troubled, joint venture: a short-takeoff, heavy-lift plane that
the Russian military had sought for years.
Antonov was not alone. With the rupture, Ukraine, among the
world's top 10 arms exporters, lost the market that spurred the
development of its military industry.
Economic and military experts said Antonov's troubles epitomized
the twin problems plaguing state-run companies in Ukraine,
particularly the military sector, as it tries to slip Russia's
gravitational pull and hitch its fortunes to Europe.
Though the New York Times attempts to
place the blame squarely on Russia, the reality is that Ukraine has
an inescapable historical, cultural, technological and socioeconomic
relationship with neighboring Russia, a relationship being
artificially severed by a likewise artificial regime in Kiev.
The first and perhaps
last Ukrainian-made tanks
to arrive in Thailand
as Bangkok shifts to Chinese alternatives
amid Kiev's faltering
The primary problem facing this US-European prodded shift is that
the defense industry Ukraine was a part of, represented and
benefited from mirroring that of the US and Europe.
Attempting to integrate itself with the
US and Europe is unlikely, and instead what will follow is the
liquidation of Ukraine's economic strength.
The New York Times notes that Ukraine also was a prolific weapons
developer and manufacturer, among the top 10 in the world. Nations
around the world sought Ukrainian systems, including armored
personnel carriers and main battle tanks because of comparable
characteristics to Russian and Chinese systems.
Again, however, these systems depended on the many ties that still
exist between Ukraine and Russia, not to mention socioeconomic and
political stability within Ukraine that now no longer exists. Having
severed these ties for political rather than pragmatic reasons,
Ukraine has crippled itself yet again.
The most poignant example of this was
the failure to deliver T-84 Oplot main battle tanks to the Southeast
Asian nation of Thailand.
The order was placed before the 2013-2014 putsch in Kiev, along with
the acquisition of Ukrainian BTR-3 armored personnel carriers.
However, delays in deliver due to instability after 2013-2014 have
caused the Thai government to shift to China's VT-4 main battle tank
It should be remembered that large acquisitions of weapon systems
like aircraft and ground vehicles often create an entire ecosystem
of spare parts, replacements, training, and even closer military
cooperation. Ukraine has not only lost out on potentially lucrative
weapon deals, but all the additional benefits included with them.
There was also Ukraine's space industry whose biggest partner was
Russia. With the partnership ended by Kiev and the ability of space
agencies elsewhere around the world unable to fill the void because
of the long-term nature of most space programs, Kiev's decision has
all but laid this industry to rest.
Bloomberg in its article, "Putin Is Knocking Ukraine's Space
Industry Out of Orbit," implies that Russia has crippled Ukraine's
However, throughout the article,
Bloomberg admits that Ukraine's space program was mutually
beneficial to both Kiev and Moscow, with its "knocking out"
benefiting neither nation.
The article admits:
The rest of Ukraine's space industry
hasn't been so fortunate. Russia was its biggest customer, and
sales have cratered.
That's partly Ukraine's doing: In
June, President Petro Poroshenko halted all military
sales to Russia, including some dual-use missile and rocket
technologies made by Ukrainian companies.
Bloomberg also admits:
By 2013, Ukraine's deputy prime
minister told the website Space News, the country was making
about $600 million a year from commercial space ventures.
But Russia still accounted for about
80 percent of sales at Yuzhmash, Vladimir Tkachenko, the
company's assistant general manager, told the BBC earlier this
What is clear is that the US-European
installed regime in Kiev has intentionally destroyed several
prominent industrial centers of Ukraine's economy, setting back, not
benefiting Russia who had maintained strong ties with and depended
on Ukrainian industry.
What is also clear is that Ukraine and
Russia weren't the only interdependencies disrupted by Ukraine's
unraveling or the US-led sanctions leveled against Russia in its
The Wrecking Ball
Historically Western Europe and Russia have maintained close
economic ties both because of proximity and out of necessity.
Interdependencies exist here not only in
terms of aerospace technology, with Russia sending the entirety of
all American and European astronauts into orbit aboard its Soyuz
launch system, but also in terms of trade, defense and energy.
Failing to deliver on
tanks is one thing,
failing to deliver
entire ships is another.
France has also paid
a steep political and economic price
for adhering to US
sanctions against Moscow.
US-led sanctions and geopolitical maneuvers by Washington to breakup
EU-Russian cooperation have been costly.
Pipeline deals have been repeatedly
disrupted, delayed or cancelled. A lucrative French-Russian deal
involving the sale of Mistral Class ships to Moscow has cost the
French government hundreds of millions of dollars.
Perhaps the most ironic structure to be threatened as this wrecking
ball swings back West, is the US dependence on Russian RD-180 rocket
engines used to launch, among other things, US Department of Defense
satellites into orbit.
are used by America’s
United Launch Alliance
to put US payloads
but are now in
jeopardy of being lost
and flight schedules
disrupted because of US sanctions.
Even in the US, special interests are not united behind the notion
of continued economic pressure on Russia.
While those pushing for the continued
sanctions against Russia claim the United States can find
replacements, so far those replacements look particularly bleak, if
RFE/RL would report in its article, "Ukraine
Proposes Working with U.S. to Replace Russian Rockets,"
Ukraine has proposed that Kyiv and
the United States jointly develop and produce a rocket engine to
replace Russian rocket engines currently used to launch U.S.
The head of Ukraine’s Space Agency, Lyubomyr Sabadosh, said on
May 31 that he proposed the plan to replace Russian RD-180
rocket engines, which the U.S. Congress has ordered to be phased
out by 2019, on a visit to the United States last month.
However, for Ukraine, who is busy
liquidating some of its most important heavy industrial assets on
behalf of Washington and Brussels, the prospect of it replacing
rocket engines even American industry would be hard-pressed to
develop on its own is unlikely.
US-Russian cooperation in space between not only NASA and Roscosmos,
but also between American and Russian private industry in regards to
the RD-180 rocket engines has been an enduring example of post-Cold
It is ironic that the United States
claims, by endangering this achievement, it is some how protecting
international order, peace and stability.
In the end, it seems that those in the United States lobbying
heavily to keep sanctions in place have more than just Moscow to
They have a growing chorus of leaders in
industry who may silently seek domination over Russian industry in
the long-term, but failing that, needs cooperation with Russian
industry in the short-term.
It is clear that those behind the
sanctions are unable to deliver on either.