Letter From the Editors: July 31-August 6, 2017

Author: Xenia Grushetsky

New Round of Sanctions - Historical Déjà vu?

Imagine reading the following headline: "US vessel attacked, taken over by foreign power." The article goes on to say that this is not the first time that American ships have been harassed at sea. The public is outraged. Congress is urging the president to take harsh measures - maybe even go to war. Tough sanctions against the aggressor are introduced.

This was the political climate when the US introduced the Embargo Act of 1807 against Britain (and France) following the Chesapeake-Leopard Affair (the incident described above). But given the current geopolitical tensions - from sanctions to close calls involving US warships and Russian aviation in the Baltic - it might as well have been ripped from today’s headlines. Fortunately, a major confrontation and casualties have so far been avoided. Yet as this week’s news demonstrates, no one is backing down and tensions remain high.

The US Congress passed additional stricter sanctions against Russia, which retaliated by ordering the US to significantly reduce the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia. Each side is accusing the other of exacerbating confrontation. In middle school terms - "They started it!"

In a classic cold war move, Russia is also waging a proxy war against the US. This time in Venezuela. According to Vladislav Inozemtsev, Moscow is perhaps the last remaining ally of embattled President Nicolas Maduro. Despite the fact that his regime is teetering ever closer to the brink (especially in light of a highly controversial vote to create the Constituent Assembly, a new national body purportedly designed to bring the country out of its protracted crisis), Russia is nevertheless putting its geopolitical eggs in the Venezuelan basket. It has invested a mind-boggling $20 billion in the Latin American country over the past decade. Meanwhile, Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin has called Caracas his "No. 1 foreign ...

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