By Ray McGovern
So the US has levied new sanctions on Russia, ostensibly because great-white-hope “dissident” Navalny was “novichok-ed” (the Russians having taken care to leave their Novichok ID card at the scene of the crime, so to speak).
I had a chance today, in an interview with Garland Nixon of The Critical Hour, to review some recent history on sanctions against Russia.
Recall that even after the US-orchestrated coup in Ukraine on Feb. 22, 2014 and Crimea’s re-joining Russia, Washington was unable to get the Europeans to “follow the leader” in imposing sanctions on Russia.
Not until the shoot-down of a Malaysian airliner on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 aboard, was the U.S. able to strong-arm the Europeans into levying sanctions. Then-Secretary of State John Kerry claimed to have evidence that Russia was responsible for the shoot-down. Here’s what he told NBC TV on July 30, 2014:
“We picked up the imagery of this launch. We know the trajectory. We know where it came from. We know the timing. And it was exactly at the time that this aircraft disappeared from the radar.”
Given the way U.S. intelligence collectors, understandably, were focused laser-like on that part of the Ukrainian-Russian border at the time, it is a near certainty that the U.S. has highly accurate intelligence regarding what actually happened and who was responsible. If authentic intelligence supported the accusations made by Kerry, it would almost certainly have been made public. Much of it would not be highly classified and would not risk damage to sources and methods.
Typically, though, the Europeans chose to draw the U.S.-desired conclusions from Kerry’s words and adopt them as bible-truth. They seemed afraid to appear impertinent by asking how the “evidence” that Kerry cited proved the culprit was Moscow.
In any case, less than two weeks after the shoot-down of the Malaysian airliner, the Europeans were persuaded to impose sanctions that hurt many of their own businesses and economies about as much as they hurt Russia’s — and far more, of course, than they hurt the U.S.
Ray and Garland talked about how accustomed the Europeans are to following Washington’s diktat lemming-like, and how long this vassal relationship is likely to last. In this connection, German defiance of U.S. pressure against the almost completed NordStream II project, which will deliver still more natural gas from Russia to Germany (circumventing the current pipeline through Ukraine) seems to be a harbinger of things to come.