In an innocuously named – Stability and Democracy for Ukraine Act (or STAND for Ukraine Act) bill – there are provisions that deter Russia from overstepping the line of aggression. It intends to convert into law the Obama measures of sanctions against Russia for capturing Crimea. This would have made it very tough for the next President Trump to roll the sanctions back.
Is the Next US Secretary of State the Errand Boy of Russia’s Putin?
It is being said that this bill has been stalled thanks to the lobbying efforts of Exxon. Exxon has the state-run Rosneft in Russia as its business partner. Rosneft’s Chief Igor Sechin is a close Putin person and had been sanctioned by the Treasury Department in 2014. The JV between Rosneft and Exxon was done in 2011 by Putin and Rex Tillerson.
Exxon has been hit by the santcions that were put on Russia and its drilling project in the Arctic region of Russia was hit badly. Since then, Exxon has been lobbying with Senate Foreign Relations Committee against the bills that put sanctions on Russia for the Ukraine invasion.
On Russia sanctions, Exxon sometimes works through the U.S.-Russia Business Council, where Tillerson used to be a board member. In May, the group brought a handful of people who work for American companies in Russia, including Caterpillar and JPMorgan, to discuss topics including sanctions with House Democrats.
Randi Levinas, the U.S.-Russia Business Council’s lobbyist, said the House Foreign Affairs Committee Democratic staff invited the group to weigh in on the sanctions bill. The group also lobbied the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, she said.
It is rather interesting that the same guy – Exxon Chief Rex Tillerson – who has been lobbying for removing of sanctions against Russia will now be the US Secretary of State for a President who is also against such sanctions. And this when Russia has just worked to sabotage the US Presidential Elections via Cyber-warfare including hacking.
The stalling of the bill in the Senate means that Trump could very easily reverse the sanctions that Obama administration has put on Russia.
If there was any doubt that influence of Russia on the governance in the US runs beyond a few hacking exploits then this is a very good example. With this “intervention”, not only is Russia going to be let off the aggression and occupation of Ukraine but it will be free to go ahead and attack any country it had under the USSR umbrella. And that too without any steps being taken by the US.
Featured Image Cartoon: Flickr\Donkeyhotey