20:27 GMT +320 November 2017
Live
    Digital network

    Russian Business Abroad: Which is the Correct Response to Discrimination?

    CC0
    Columnists
    Get short URL
    Dmitry Babich
    111713143

    The EU Commission has deemed the Nord Stream 2 project "not necessary"; the pipe was aimed at supplying Russian natural gas to the EU countries via the Baltic Sea and Germany.

    Another safe route for Russian gas has thus been declared redundant by Brussels. In a policy paper published by the Commission, it is stated that "gas imports to the EU are expected to remain stable by 2030."

    A mere look at the map of Eurasia shows how lacking in wisdom this statement is. On that map, the EU looks like a peninsula protruding towards the Atlantic Ocean from the huge Eurasian landmass.  

    Now the European Commission has deemed the natural resources of this landmass "not necessary" for the peninsula named the European Union. 

    "I would view this situation in a wider context. What we are seeing now is not even an escalation, but a rapid degradation of relations between Russia and the global West, brought about, firstly, by NATO member countries," comments Ivan Tymofeyev, the head of department of political theory at MGIMO University in Moscow. "The Western side simply ignores certain realities. This is true about both the United States and the European Union."  

    Indeed, the longtime activity of the European Commission aimed at what it calls "reducing Europe's energy dependence on Russia" is supported by the US Congress, which recently even enshrined the American opposition to the Nord Stream 2 project in a recent law on sanctions against Russia.

    The actions of both the United States and the European Commission look more and more like an attempt to thwart the time-tested cooperation between Russia and Western Europe in the energy sphere.

    The roots of this cooperation go back to the 1960s, when the first supplies of Russian gas to the West German market gave a boost to the industry there.

    READ MORE: Nord Stream 2: Gas Has 'Bright Potential' Amid Rising EU Demand – Energy Analyst

    Unfortunately, after the collapse of communism in Russia, ideology suddenly started to prevail on the Western side. Now ideology seems to prevail over the economic interests of the US and the EU, not just in Europe, but also in Latin America and other regions where Russian business is getting more active. For example, when the Russian company Rosneft in recent years entered the Venezuelan oil sector, this move was perceived as a threat by the United States. For example, when Rosneft last year purchased a 49.9 percent stake in Citgo, the Venezuelan oil-refining subsidiary in the US, this move provoked an uproar among US congressmen.

    "The deal was sharply criticized by members of Congress, who warned that an eventual Russian takeover of Citgo would threated national security," the New York Times reported. Interestingly, the NYT notes that without selling its Citgo subsidiary to Rosneft, the Venezuelan oil major, Pdvsa, would have had difficulty keeping its oil fields producing. So, the congressmen were more interested in seeing Venezuela stop supplying oil to the US than Rosneft's success.

    American attempts to oppose Rosneft's expansion are underway around the world, even though the US acknowledges that before going to Venezuela Rosneft offered dozens of joint projects to American companies. These offers were struck down by American sanctions against Russia. These included personal sanctions against Rosneft's CEO Igor Sechin, and a prohibition barring the American company Exxon Mobil from selling Rosneft its expertise in developing Arctic shale oil and gas.  

    READ MORE: Rosneft CEO Urges to 'Build Bridges' Binding Eurasia Together

    "The Western attempts to foil Russian business projects are an indicator of the rebirth of ideological rivalry, and not just with Russia. What we are seeing now is a confrontation between the American-led global neoliberal project and dozens of economic nationalisms around the world," explains Vladimir Batyuk, the head of the Center for Regional Research at the Institute of the United States and Canada at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

    "For example, the personal attacks of the neoliberal establishment against President Donald Trump are explained in the first place by him being perceived as an American economic nationalist."   

    In the opinion of many experts, for the American global neoliberal project, making Russia poorer is even more important than making Western countries, including the United States, richer.

    The continued turmoil in post-Maidan Ukraine, which was costly for everyone involved, including Ukraine, Russia, the EU and the United States, is a good example.

    "The ruling regime in Ukraine has supported a lot of actions which were detrimental to global businesses, not just to Russian or Ukrainian ones," notes Maxim Yusin, the deputy foreign editor of the respected Moscow-based business periodical Kommersant daily. "I specialize in Ukraine today and I can tell you with facts in hand: Kiev's refusal to supply water and electricity on a commercial basis to Crimea and Donbass, the severing of transportation ties with Russia and actions against Russian banks in Ukraine — these were all anti-business moves, which hurt not only Russian companies. Nevertheless, the US and the EU continue to support the ruling Ukrainian regime."

    Indeed, in March 2017 the offices of Russian banks in Ukraine were blockaded by so-called "activists" from Ukrainian nationalist organizations. They used the same methods which Hitler's SA thugs used against Jewish businesses in 1938: painted insulting inscriptions on entrances to Ukrainian branches of Russian banks, accused Russia of "aggression against Ukraine" much in the same way German Nazis accused "Judea" of aggression against Germany in 1938. 

    Some of the entrances to the branches of the Russian state owned banks Sberbank and VTB were in fact bricked off by the nationalists. The Ukrainian government not only failed to restrain the so-called activists. In that same month, March 2017, the Ukrainian government issued several executive orders which made the operations of Russian banks impossible in Ukraine — in fact, Poroshenko solidarized himself with the thugs, forcing the Russian banks to sell their businesses in Ukraine. VTB's CEO Andrei Kostin said his bank lost "hundreds of millions of dollars" because of its violent eviction from Ukraine.

    The Russian businesses which attempted to ignore the deterioration of Russia's relations with the West are being reminded that in the modern world everything is interconnected, including business and politics. Kaspersky Lab, one of the few Russian companies which is recognizable in the US and which specialized in digital security, for many years tried to stay out of politics, positioning itself as a neutral and effective global enterprise. This did not prevent the American Department of Homeland Security from banning all Kaspersky's equipment from government offices in the United States.

    READ MORE: Kaspersky Lab to Open Source Code for Independent Review Amid Pressure in US

    So, how should Russia react to this longtime trend of seeing its businesses squeezed out of foreign countries?

    "It is not the first time that Russian businesses are facing unequal treatment from the United States and the West in general," said Vyacheslav Nikonov, a historian specializing in Russia-US relations who heads the Russian State Duma's committee on education and science. "But now the situation is becoming especially dramatic. Not only the Russian state, but the businesses themselves have to take tough decisions. It is clear that self-isolation is not a solution. We have to find new markets, new partners."

    In fact, Russia has been pretty successful in finding partners even among countries which used to be client states of the US. The Iraqi government, for example, allowed the Russian military supplies' transit through its territory to neighboring Syria. Baghdad also did not protest against the expanding presence of Rosneft in its northern oil fields. Iran declared itself open to Russian oil investment immediately after the removal of sanctions, now questioned by President Trump, but not by Russia. This year alone, Moscow was visited by the heads of affluent states such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Philippines — all of them promising mutual investments and business cooperation. Additionally, Russia remains a full and active participant in BRICS.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

    Tags:
    banks, business, finance, gas, economy, trade, sanctions, Nord Stream 2, Kaspersky Lab, VTB, Eurasia, Europe, United States, Russia
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik
    • Сomment