23:47 GMT +320 January 2020
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    The Trump administration has imposed new sanctions against Russia escalating US diplomatic pressure on Moscow. On Tuesday, the US Treasury Department blacklisted several Russian shipping companies and six vessels allegedly involved in oil transfers to North Korea. The Federal Security Service said the move violated UN restrictions on Pyongyang.

    Sputnik has discussed this with Tony Kevin, former Australian diplomat and author of the book "Return to Moscow.”

    Sputnik: In your view how justified are these new measures taken by the United States against Russia now?

    Tony Kevin: Not at all. They're interference with free trade, an interference with fair trade. The United States seems to be resorting increasingly freely to the sanctions weapon and it's obviously extremely disruptive of normal international trade.

    Sputnik:  How tense are these diplomatic relations between Moscow and Washington becoming now?

    Tony Kevin: Very damaged. Of course, the United States is resorting to sanctions not approved by any United Nations Security Council resolution, against not only Russia, but also at the moment Turkey and Iran. So that’s three countries that the United States is exercising sanctions against. In the case of Russia, they're different kinds of sanctions, the latest ones are allegedly violating UN Security Council resolution on trade with North Korea. We’re already in the first tranche, the first stage of the sanctions based on alleged poisoning of the Skripals’, which, of course, is completely unproven. There’s been no judicial process in the United Kingdom, and yet both the Theresa May government and now the American government have taken it on themselves to, as it were, find Russia guilty before any process, and to require that Russia promise not to do it again. Otherwise, the sanctions will continue to be tightened. In the case of Turkey, you’ve got sanctions over a very minor issue really, the detention of an American pastor in Turkey. And in the case of Iran you’ve got sanctions which have clearly very much displeased the European community because there was an existing agreement which the European community and Iran will continue to honor, but which the Americans have decided is not good enough for them. It’s unilateralism. It’s action outside the international rules of behavior, and I don’t think Americans realize, Americans in government and politics, realize the unintended consequences, because all of this is leading to a situation where people will trust the American dollar as a reserve currency less and less in international trade, and people will look for alternatives.

    Sputnik: Other experts have stated that the unpredictability in terms of these measures, being pushed forward by the US, have had a negative affect not only on the US itself, but also on US allies and specifically the relationship between the USA and EU seems to be unraveling, what’s your thoughts with regard to that?

    Tony Kevin: The European Union, with the exception of the UK, which is operating more and more as an offshore island colony of the United States, continental European Union and, particularly, Germany — it's leading member — is more and more coming to a conclusion that they have to be prudent and have back-up plans. Obviously, the US economy is very large and as long as it can punish companies that have a lot of trade with the US, trading, for example, with Russia or Iran in violation of unilateral sanctions; I think there’s a feeling that there is a need to have alternative company structures, to have as it were one set of companies that trade with the US, and another set that trade with the countries that the US is displeased with. The Europeans have been pretty clever at this sort of thing for a long time and I’m sure they’ll find ways around these sanctions. Because in the end, trade goes where trade wants to go and it’s a futile weapon in the end.

    Sputnik: Do you see a strengthening of ties in the long run between EU and Russia, or do you think that the strength of the relationship between the European Union and America can withstand this?

    Tony Kevin: I don’t think so; I think the European Union will find ways to ride two horses at once. It’s part of a general move isn’t it, towards a multilateral world order and away from an order based on, as it were,  the United States as a center. I don’t think we will see dramatic changes, but there’s a move underway certainly.

    Sputnik: Recently Facebook announced that it removed over 650 accounts linked to Russia for so-called “inauthentic behavior,” there's still no justification in terms of any legal process or proven information with regard to this, do you think this action was justified by the tech giant or is it just going along with the American administration?

    Tony Kevin: It is going along with the mood, the McCarthyism, witch hunts if you like. Social media like Facebook and Twitter, they’re in it for the money, they’re in it for what they earn from commercial companies. And I guess they feel there's not enough business with Russia-based companies to make this commercially undesirable for them. They want to do what the US government wants them to do, that’s pretty clear, and, of course, it’s completely hypocritical. Because people have always used pseudonyms on Facebook and Twitter and so on, and the fact that some of those people might come from one particular part of the world is neither here nor there.

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of speaker and do not

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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