16:14 GMT21 January 2021
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    The US Treasury Department designated a Russian maritime company, three Sovfracht directors and five vessels for an alleged scheme to evade sanctions to facilitate the delivery of jet fuel to Russian forces in Syria.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry has said that the US has "excelled its own recklessness" and exposed its support for terrorists by introducing sanctions against these Russian entities, recalling that Moscow had repeatedly noted Washington’s policies "patronizing" terrorist from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, formerly known as the Nusra Front banned in Russia, providing them with needed means and protecting them from strikes, despite the group being a "direct successor" to *al-Qaeda terror group.

    Piers Robinson, co-director of the Organisation for Propaganda Studies shares his view on the issue.

    Sputnik: The US administration imposed sanctions on the company Maritime Assistance, which is suspected of “participating in the jet fuel supply scheme to Russian forces in Syria bypassing US restrictions". How justified are US sanctions against Russian companies, starting with those that were imposed against Sovfracht?

    Piers Robinson: Obviously, the US will argue it has a legal basis for these new sanctions but it is difficult to see how this squares with the right of the Syrian government to defend its territorial integrity and its right to request help from Russia.

    Sanctions are often employed as a form of economic warfare, designed to coerce and weaken an 'enemy' country; It is likely that this is the objective being pursued here.

    Sputnik: What is Washington trying to achieve by introducing this new package of sanctions?

    Piers Robinson: Military attempts to overthrow the Syrian government appear now to have failed, after 8 years of war.

    The strategy now is likely to be one of trying to weaken and destabilise the country through sanctions and to inhibit attempts to rebuild by damaging its economy and discrediting the government in the eyes of the world.

    At the same time, these sanctions on Russian companies contribute both to the weakening of Syria and of Russia both of which which are key objectives of the US government at the moment.

    Sputnik: Commenting on the new sanctions, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Treasury Department has listed Russian companies “for supporting Assad’s brutal military machine and supplying oil to the Russian military in Syria”. How consistent are Pompeo's accusations, given that the US has more than once been suspected of supporting various terrorist groups in the Middle East?

    Piers Robinson: There is no moral or legal consistency in US actions.

    We know that the US, along with its allies, has supported groups fighting to overthrow the Syrian government: Syria is one in a series of regime-change wars that can be traced back to the 9/11 initiated global 'war on terror'.

    These actions are illegal under international law: arming groups and trying to overthrow governments runs contrary to basic principles of international law.

    To all intent and purpose, the US is acting as a 'rogue state', or perhaps a more accurate description is that the US is an aggressive imperial power. Given all of this, it is hypocritical for the US to accuse others of aggression.

    *al-Qaeda, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, Nusra Front are terrorist organizations banned in Russia and many other countries.

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


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    sanctions, US Treasury, supplies, fuel, jets, Sovfracht, Russia, Syria
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