Letter From the Editors: July 24 - 30, 2017

Author: Laurence Bogoslaw

The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Friend - Right?

There’s no common agreement on where this ancient proverb originated, but it seems more relevant than ever in today’s world of labyrinthine economic and political connections. In the case of Russia, the following paraphrase may be more appropriate: The more enemies you have, the more you seek friends.

One historical enemy that Moscow hoped would become a friend is the US. But with the new round of sanctions passed this week by both houses of Congress, that prospect (which beckoned with the election of Donald Trump) seems further off than ever. The sanctions bill targets Russia at its weakest points: foreign investment and technology. If Trump signs it, this set of punitive measures will make it harder than ever for Russian businesses to partner with American companies, borrow from American banks and import American goods.

The US sanctions bill also takes aim at Russia’s most valuable assets - oil and gas resources and infrastructure. For example, it blocks financing for the future Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, and even bars foreign companies from supplying maintenance equipment for sections of existing pipelines located within Russia. These details lead Russian market analysts like Valery Nesterov to conclude that the US legislature is really trying to clear the way for American energy companies to break into the European market with their own liquefied natural gas. Curiously, Washington’s traditionally stalwart European allies agree. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern issued a joint statement expressing outrage that the bill "is surprisingly candid about***selling American liquefied natural gas and ending the supply of Russian natural gas to the European market."

But even more curiously, Russian political analyst Vladimir Frolov defends the US against these allegations. A crucial piece of his argument is that Nord Stream 2 bypasses Ukraine. "Opposing this particular project. ...

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