Connect with us

Latest

Analysis

News

The truth about Mueller’s investigation: no Grand Jury empanelled; Trump not being investigated

New York Times and Reuters separately refute claims that Special Counsel’s Mueller’s investigation has empanelled a Grand Jury and that President Trump is himself being investigated.

Alexander Mercouris

Published

on

6,959 Views

Early this morning the viscerally anti-Trump news media especially in Europe filled with headlines following the ‘revelation’ that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has used a Grand Jury to issue subpoenas in the Russiagate inquiry.

No European state has anything similar to a Grand Jury – Britain did away with the device long ago – and Europeans in my experience have no understanding of it.  That led to a rush of assumptions that Mueller was on the verge of bringing charges against someone.

It should be said clearly that that is completely wrong, and that such a conclusion is unwarranted.

Firstly, it seems that the report in the Wall Street Journal which triggered the story that Mueller had actually empanelled a Grand Jury are wrong.  This has been confirmed by the New York Times

A grand jury based in Alexandria, Va., began issuing subpoenas in the Flynn case months ago. Mr. Mueller took over the investigation in May and assembled a team of prosecutors in an office in downtown Washington. Mr. Mueller has not impaneled a special grand jury, the lawyers involved in the case said, and has decided instead to use one of several grand juries that regularly sit in Washington.

It is in fact standard practice in certain states of the US for investigating prosecutors to use Grand Juries to issue subpoenas, thereby avoiding the complexities of applying to a court for warrants which might require the person under investigation to attend and have his say.

That is all that Mueller appears to have done, and it is in fact something which is regularly done in investigations of this sort.  Indeed it was obviously something which it was envisaged Mueller would do when his inquiry was first set up.

What seems to have happened is that someone learnt of the fact that Mueller had used a Grand Jury to issue subpoenas as part of his investigation and jumped to conclusions from that fact which are unwarranted.

As to the subpoenas that Mueller has issued through the Grand Jury, the New York Times helpfully provides information about what they are

At least some of the subpoenas were for documents related to the business dealings of Michael T. Flynn, the retired general who briefly served as President Trump’s national security adviser. Mr. Flynn is under investigation for foreign lobbying work, as well as for conversations he had during the transition with Sergey I. Kislyak, who was Russia’s ambassador to the United States……

Brandon Van Grack, a former Alexandria prosecutor now working for Mr. Mueller, signed the subpoenas and has been leading the investigation into Mr. Flynn. Those who described the subpoenas did so on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the case.

It seems that there may also be subpoenas issued in connection with the now famous June 2016 meeting between Donald Tump Junior and the Russian lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya, though the wording of the New York Times article does not actually confirm this.

What makes the New York Times article especially interesting is that its sources almost certainly are lawyers working for Mueller himself.   Since Mueller’s inquiry is not in a position to comment publicly about the conduct of the investigation, someone within the inquiry – quite possibly Mueller himself – appears to have authorised a leak of what was actually happening to the New York Times in order to correct the wrong stories about Mueller empanelling a Grand Jury which had been circulating in the previous hours.

If so then this is a proper use of a leak to correct an error and stands in stark contrast to the wholly wrong and malicious use of anonymous leaks which has been going on throughout the Russiagate saga for months.

This brings us to the subject of Mueller’s conduct of the inquiry to date.  There has been massive speculation about this but few actual facts because Mueller and his team in contrast to everyone else involved in the Russiagate affair have up to now acted with impressive and commendable discipline, and have kept their conduct of the investigation private.

The latest flurry of stories about the Grand Jury have however cast some light on the question of what lines of investigation Mueller is following and it is now possible to come to some tentative conclusions.

Firstly, it is clear from the New York Times story that Mueller is looking into General Flynn’s dealings with ambassador Kislyak and the payments General Flynn received from Russia and for carrying out lobbying work for the Turkish government.

The British news agency Reuters has in addition provided some additional information

One source briefed on the matter said Mueller was investigating whether, either at the meeting or afterward (NB: this refers to the meeting between Donald Trump Junior and Natalya Veselnitskaya – AM), anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign encouraged the Russians to start releasing material they had been collecting on the Clinton campaign since March 2016.

Another source familiar with the inquiry said that while the president himself was not now under investigation, Mueller’s investigation was seeking to determine whether he knew of the June 9 meeting in advance or was briefed on it afterward.

Reuters earlier reported that Mueller’s team was examining money-laundering accusations against Manafort and hoped to push him to cooperate with their probe into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. It is not known if the grand jury is investigating those potential charges.

(bold italics added)

The words I have highlighted all but confirm that previous reports that President Trump is under investigation for obstruction of justice in connection with the tangled story of his interactions and subsequent sacking of former FBI Director James Comey are indeed either wrong – as the President’s lawyers say – or else that this investigation, if it ever took place, has now been wound up.

Since that there was no obstruction of justice either by Trump or by anyone else either of these possibilities could be true.

Needless to say the numerous reports of the Grand Jury story which have appeared in the media have largely failed to report Reuters’ confirmation that President Trump himself is not under investigation in the Russiagate inquiry – as he has not in fact been at any time during the Russiagate investigations since they started – highly important though that fact is.

What we therefore have is an inquiry that centres on three issues

(1) General Flynn’s interactions with ambassador Kislyak and his financial dealings with RT;

(2) the meeting between Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Junior; and

(3) the money-laundering allegations against Paul Manafort.

Since virtually everything there is to know about General Flynn’s various dealings with Kislyak and the Russians is already known, and literally everything there is to know about the Veselnitskaya-Donald Trump Junior meeting is so also known, my guess is that the focus of Mueller’s investigation are the money-laundering allegations against Paul Manafort.

The allegations against Paul Manafort originate with Ukrainian sources and are heatedly denied by him.  From what I have seen of them they do not look at all convincing.  Mueller nonetheless appears to be looking into them to see whether there might be some substance to them and if so whether they might have given the Russians some handle over Manafort so as to create a scenario where he and the Trump campaign might have colluded with the Russians during the election.

That is a valid form of inquiry even if the answer is almost certainly no.

I would add that even if the money-laundering allegations against Manafort are true that does not prove collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians of which there is no evidence.

As to General Flynn’s activities, there is no evidence that his interactions with Kislyak or the Russians resulted in any collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign.  It is however possible that Flynn may have committed technical offences in connection with the Logan Act and for misreporting payments he received from RT and from the Turkish government.  However not only do these provide no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, but they are at worst procedural offences, which if Flynn has committed I think Trump should pardon him for.

Having said this, these offences or possible offences are at least crimes – even if only technical or procedural crimes – that Mueller can look into, and given that he is required to conduct an inquiry he is right to look into them.

As for the meeting between Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Junior, I have already discussed this exhaustively.

Not only was no offence committed during this meeting but on the evidence that is already known we can already answer Mueller’s question – whether during or after that meeting “anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign encouraged the Russians to start releasing material they had been collecting on the Clinton campaign” – in the negative.

Nonetheless, again in light of the allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians which have been made, Mueller is right to ask the question and to get a formal answer to it.

Possibly Mueller’s team is pursuing other lines of enquiry we know nothing about, but it is likely these are the main ones.

Notably absent is any reference to the Trump Dossier, once referred to as the ‘frame narrative’ supposedly being followed by the investigation.  It seems that this phoney dossier is now so discredited that Mueller wisely is no longer bothering with it.

There is also no evidence of any further interest in Carter Page, all of whose dealings with the Russians have long since been thoroughly investigated, and which have turned out to have been wholly innocent.

There are some suggestions that over and above these Russiagate related lines of enquiry Mueller may also be engaging in some elaborate fishing expedition by trawling through Donald Trump’s and Paul Manafort’s financial and business affairs to find some evidence of wrongdoing there which is unrelated to the claims of collusion with Russia during the election campaign.

Such a fishing expedition would be deeply unethical, though unfortunately there is past history of Special Counsel behaving in exactly that way.  There is no evidence however that Mueller is, and personally I don’t think he is.

If this reconstruction of the current state of Mueller’s investigation is accurate – as I believe it is – then he is carrying out a proper enquiry focusing on those actions about which it is legitimate to ask questions.

Probably by now – in some deep inner core of his psyche, denied even by himself to himself – Mueller knows his inquiry is a fool’s errand which will lead nowhere.  However he is not to blame for that, the blame for it resting wholly with those who against all fact and reason have insisted on an enquiry being set up in the absence of any evidence of wrongdoing that would warrant it.

As a professional investigator Mueller has to go through what ‘evidence’ there is so that when his report is eventually published there are no loose ends proponents of the Russiagate conspiracy can hang onto.  He is therefore right to look at the evidence of Flynn’s and Manafort’s dealings with the Russians, and at what happened during and following the meeting between Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Junior, and no one should make any assumptions of findings of possible wrongdoing because of this.

It does however seem that Mueller’s inquiry is limited to the question of the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.  Apparently Mueller is not looking into the question of whether the Russians did indeed hack the computers of John Podesta and the DNC.  Almost certainly this is because this is outside the remit of his inquiry, which will have been decided not by Mueller but by the Justice Department.

This is very unfortunate because there are certainly lots of questions about this alleged hack which could be asked.  However it seems that Mueller is required to accept the conclusions of the January ODNI report, which said there was a hack by the Russians, and is not authorised to go behind it.  If or rather when Mueller finally reports that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, it might be possible to revisit this issue.  Realistically it will not happen before then.

Lastly, the media continues to hum with speculation that Trump is looking for some way to sack Mueller.

I have seen no evidence of this, and Trump’s lawyers strongly deny it.

If Trump does have any ideas of sacking Mueller he should put them aside.  Not only would sacking Mueller precipitate a political storm which Trump might not survive, but on the evidence of how Mueller is conducting his inquiry Trump has no reason or cause to sack him.

All the evidence points to Mueller conducting his inquiry properly in a way which will eventually vindicate Trump and his campaign, and which will leave the Democrats and the supporters of the Russiagate conspiracy looking foolish and vindictive, and frankly paranoid.

If only for that reason Trump should let Mueller get on with it.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Comments

Latest

Russia makes MASSIVE progress on its ‘super-weapons’

Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle moves into serial production, nuclear-engine powered cruise missile tests continue, and more as Russia continues to outdo all Western military tech

Seraphim Hanisch

Published

on

On July 19th and 20th, The Russian Defense Ministry announced several milestones of progress in its advanced weapons systems programs. These programs were revealed to the world in March of this year, when Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the State of the Russian Federation speech.

Support The Duran – Browse our Shop >>

While at first the Western onlookers did not believe the amazing announcements of hypersonic weapons and nuclear-powered cruise missiles with unlimited range, subsequent releases and concurrent observation by the American military experts has shown these developments to be as real as Mr. Putin claimed they are.

TASS, the Russian News Agency, released information on these weapons systems in separate reports:

Kinzhal

The Kinzhal hypersonic missile:

Squadrons of MiG-31 fighter jets armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles should enter combat duty in the Black Sea region and at other Russian fleets and flotillas, said Russian military expert Viktor Murakhovsky, the editor-in-chief of the Arsenal Otechestva magazine.

Besides, a squadron (between 12 and 16 aircraft) of MiG-31 fighter jets armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles entered combat duty in the Caspian Sea region in April.

“I think at least one squadron of those complexes should be deployed at any fleet, in other words – at all regions where we have fleets and flotillas. We need to deploy them in the regions of the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Northern Fleet. The Pacific region also should not be forgotten,” Murakhovsky said.

He said that such systems can become a “good instrument” against not only vessels equipped with high-precision weapons, but also for countering carrier attack groups.

“We know how expensive a carrier attack group can be. By employing this asymmetric method, which is unbelievably cheap in comparison with building a carrier attack group, we can neutralize this threat almost completely,” the expert said.

Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile trials:

The Burevestnik is an entirely new cruise missile, powered by a nuclear engine. This gives the missile unlimited range. In theory, such a missile could be launched at a target and spend days or weeks in hidden flight using advanced guidance systems, and then close on its target at the optimal time to assure destruction of that target with maximum surprise. The TASS piece goes on to say:

The Russian Defense Ministry announced that Russia was preparing to test upgraded test prototypes of the nuclear-powered Burevestnik cruise missile with an unlimited range.

According to the expert, it is highly likely that the prototype of the missile “has already made a flight.”

“Clearly, it was something like the pop-up trials of Sarmat – a launch without the nuclear-powered engine, in other words, with an ordinary missile booster, conducted in order to assess the possibility of a launch, aerodynamics and the operability of the entire system in general,” [Murakhovsky] said.

Further reporting from TASS had this to add about the Burevestnik program:

Russia is getting ready for flight tests of the Burevestnik nuclear powered cruise missile, an official at the Defense Ministry told reporters on Thursday.

“The missile’s component makeup is being improved based on clarified requirements, while ground tests continue and preparations are being made for experimental flight tests of the improved missile,” the official said.

According to the Defense Ministry, “work on an unlimited-range missile is going according to plan.”

“In the meantime, launching systems are also being designed, while technological processes to manufacture, assemble and test the missile are being improved. This range of work will make it possible to start designing a totally new sort of weapon – a strategic nuclear complex armed with a nuclear powered missile,” the ministry official noted.

[The head] of the 12th Central Research Institute at Russia’s Defense Ministry Sergey Pertsev, in turn, said that the tests of the new cruise missile equipped with a small nuclear power unit had confirmed the accuracy of the technical decisions that Russian researchers, engineers and designers had made. In addition, the tests enabled the researchers “to receive valuable experimental data necessary for specifying a number of requirements.”

“A low-flying and low-observable cruise missile carrying a nuclear warhead, with an almost unlimited range, an unpredictable trajectory and capability to bypass interception lines is invincible to all the existing and advanced air and missile defense systems,” the Russian Defense Ministry stressed.

A further use of the nuclear engine technology is also expected in the Poseidon underwater drone, Mr. Murakhovsky stated that separate systems for the craft have been successfully tested. He further noted that the next task is to design the entire layout, build a test model and begin testing the whole platform.

The Avangard Hypersonic Missile

While the Kinzhal is a Mach-10 capable hypersonic system that can be launched from a fighter, the Avangard is a Mach-20 capable system that has intercontinental reach. There is almost no footage of this system released to the public, but the concept videos show how the system works. TASS reports this status:

Russia’s Strategic Missile Force is preparing a position area for accepting the Avangard hypersonic missile system for service as part of the efforts to strengthen the country’s military security, the Defense Ministry announced on Thursday.

“The Russian defense industry has completed developing the Avangard missile system with the principally new armament – the gliding cruise warhead. Industrial enterprises have switched to its serial production,” the Defense Ministry said.

“A set of organizational and technical measures is underway in the position area of the Dombarovsky large unit of the Strategic Missile Force to accept the Avangard missile system for operation,” it added.

The development of new strategic weapon systems “is aimed at increasing Russia’s defense capability and preventing any aggression against our country and its allies,” the Defense Ministry stressed.

The infrastructural facilities of the large unit’s position area have already been prepared for the missile system’s operation, the ministry said.

“The position area has been prepared in geodesic and engineering terms to accommodate the missile system. Work is underway to build new and reconstruct old facilities to provide for the operation and the combat use of the system. Technical and utility supply lines are being modernized and electric power, communications and command and control cables are being laid. Work has been arranged to train personnel and prepare armament, military and special hardware,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said.

Deputy Commander of Russia’s Strategic Missile Force for Armament Sergei Poroskun has said that the Avangard hypersonic missile system features combat capabilities that “make it possible to reliably breach any anti-missile defenses.”

The Okhotnik attack drone

The Okhotnik (“Hunter”) attack drone is now being viewed as a prototype for Russia’s “sixth-generation” fighter plane. TASS describes this in more detail:

According to [a defense industry] official, although the sixth generation fighter jet project “has not yet taken full shape, its main features are already known.”

“First of all, it should be unmanned and capable of performing any combat task in an autonomous regime. In this sense, Okhotnik will become the prototype of the sixth generation fighter jet,’ the source said, adding that the drone will be able to “take off, fulfill its objectives and return to the airfield.”

“However, it will not receive the function of decision-making regarding the use of weapons – this will be decided by a human,” he said.

TASS was unable to officially confirm the information at the time of the publication.

Another defense industry source earlier told TASS that the prototype of Okhotnik (Hunter) was ready and would start test flights this year.

The Russian Defense Ministry and the Sukhoi Company signed a contract for developing the 20-ton Okhotnik (Hunter) heavy unmanned strike aircraft in 2011. The drone’s mock-up model was made in 2014. According to unconfirmed reports, composite materials and anti-radar coating were used to create the Okhotnik. The drone is equipped with a reaction-jet propulsion and is supposed to develop a speed of 1000 kilometers per hour.

Peresvet laser weapons systems

TASS reported that the Russian military forces are now training for the use of the Peresvet combat laser system:

Russian Aerospace Force has accepted for service the laser complexes Peresvet and the military are now taking drills that involve the novel combat technologies, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

“The Peresvet laser complexes have been placed at sites of permanent deployment,” the report said. “Active efforts to make them fully operational are underway.”

“To ensure their proper functioning, the necessary infrastructures and specialized facilities for housing the complexes and duty crews have been built,” the ministry said.

The crews assigned to the Peresvets have taken upgrader courses at the Alexander Mozhaisky Military-Space Academy in St Petersburg.

The Russian military strategy of “asymmetric response.”

The overall defense strategy is termed an “asymmetric response”, and Mr. Murakhovsky explained the principle in this way:

“This is an asymmetric response, in which new classes of weapons are created, instead of new types within the framework of the existing systems. Other states are not expected to have anything of this kind [in the near future],” he said.

The expert described this response as “quite an efficient one, all the more so because it requires no additional investment – all the works are being carried out within the framework of the state procurement program.”

He added that unlike the Soviet Union, Russia avoids being dragged into a direct arms race and searches for cutting-edge solutions instead of simply increasing the number of weapons.

“The development of counter-weapons to those arms [may be possible] in distant future, but it does not mean that they can be created at all,” Murakhovsky added.

Continue Reading

Latest

From McCain to Brennan, Deep State soft coup against Trump picks up steam (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 59.

Alex Christoforou

Published

on

After Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki, the Deep State smells blood, and is moving quickly to depose of US President Donald Trump.

Government officials and mainstream media puppets from left and right are condemning the US President over his press conference with Vladimir Putin.

Leading the charge are the usual Deep State, suspects, starting with John McCain and ending with the man many believe is behind the entire Trump-Russia collusion hoax, former Obama CIA boss John Brennan.

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou examine the soft coup aimed at removing US President Trump by the November 2018 midterms. Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via The Independent

Conservative John McCain, who is facing a rare and terminal brain cancer, unleashed a damning statement against Mr Trump’s conference with Mr Putin, describing it as “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory”.

“President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin,” he said.

“It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout — as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realise his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbours, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world.”

The conservative senator’s comments arrived after the US president declined to name Russia as the adversary behind coordinated attacks on the 2016 presidential election.

While discussing whether he thought Russia was behind hacks against the 2016 election — as the US intelligence community has determined —the president said: “I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

“Dan Coats [the US Director of National Intelligence] said its Russia. President Putin says its not Russia,” said Mr Trump. “I don’t know why it would be…..I have confidence in both parties. President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

That set off a wave of condemnations from Democrats and Republicans alike.

“President Trump’s press conference with Putin was an embarrassing spectacle,” Bernie Sanders wrote in a tweet. “Rather than make clear that interference in our elections is unacceptable, Trump instead accepted Putin’s denials and cast doubt on the conclusions of our intelligence community. This is not normal.”

Jeff Flake, one of the only frequent Republican critics of Mr Trump in Congress, said the conference was “shameful” in a statement he posted across social media.

“I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression,” he said. “This is shameful.”

Former CIA Director John Brennan released a statement calling for Mr Trump’s impeachment and describing his comments as “treasonous”.

“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanours,'” Mr Brennan wrote on Twitter. “It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”

Elizabeth Warren also slammed the president for failing to hold Mr Putin accountable, writing on Twitter: “Russia interfered in our elections & attacked our democracy. Putin must be held accountable – not rewarded.”

“Disgraceful,” she concluded.

However, Mr Trump’s typical roster of critics weren’t the only legislators rebuking his bizarre denials of US intelligence. Lindsey Graham also criticised Mr Trump’s performance, adding that his denial of US intelligence will “be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves”.

“Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections,” he said.

The Republican senator added a suggestion to Mr Trump: review the soccer ball Mr Putin gave to him as a gift for “listening devices” and “never allow it in the White House.”

Thomas Pickering, a regarded statesman and the former US ambassador to Russia, told MSNBC that he was in utter disbelief after the press conference was held on Monday.

“It’s a breathtaking denial of something that clearly is so obviously true,” he said. ”it represents the epitome of President Trump’s effort at self-promotion over the notion of defending the national interest of the United States.”

Mark Warner, a Virginia senator, also suggested Mr Trump committed a clear violation of his responsibilities as president.

Mr Trump committed “a breach of his duty to defend our country against its adversaries,” Mr Warner said. ”If the President cannot defend the United States and its interests in public, how can we trust him to stand up for our country in private?”

Meanwhile the latest Deep State leak, via the NYT, claims that US President Trump was told by Obama holdovers that Putin was involved in cyberattacks during the 2016 election. US intelligence told Trump this information days before the inauguration.

Via The Gateway Pundit

The same liberal hacks who illegally leaked this information want Americans to trust them as they continue to destroy this duly elected president.

President Trump on Wednesday told CBS anchor Jeff Glor that he has no confidence in the tainted intelligence by far left hacks Clapper, Brennan and Comey.

And, once again, the timing of this leak is not an accident.

Liberals are outraged that President Trump refused to chest bump Putin in Helsinki.

The deep state leaked this information to pile on the Republican president.

The New York Times reported…

Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.

The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation.

Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed.

Continue Reading

Latest

Russia ranks HIGHER than Switzerland in these areas of doing business

Some curious things happened with several businesspeople who attended World Cup events in Russia.

Published

on

Russian President Vladimir Putin

One of them was a distinctly renewed interest in doing business inside the country, and another was the realization to what extent perceptions have been tainted by media and political rhetoric directed against any real or imagined nastiness attributed to Russia these days.

These past few weeks have been invaluable, at the very least by affording a clear picture of Russia through which almost all anxiety-ridden preconceptions were illuminated and dispelled. More disturbing was the fact that the several businesspeople I was dealing with were furious. They were livid for being played for fools, and felt victimized by the dismally untrue picture painted about Russia and Russians in their home countries, both by their own politicians and the press.

Support The Duran – Browse our Shop >>

Most felt that they have been personally sanctioned by their own countries, betrayed through lack of clear unbiased information enabling them to participate and profit from Russia opportunities these past three growth years in spite of “sanctions”.

The door to doing good business in Russia has been and is open, and has been opening wider year after year. That is not just “highly likely”, but fact. Consistently improving structures, means and methods to conduct business in Russia sustainably, transparently and profitably are now part of the country’s DNA. It is a process, which has been worked on in the west for more than a century, and one, which Russia has only started these past 18 years.

True, there are sanctions, counter-sanctions, and regulations governing them that must be studied carefully. However if you are not a bank or doing business with those persons deemed worthy of being blacklisted by some countries “sanctions list”, in reality there are no obstacles that cannot be positively addressed and legally overcome despite the choir of political nay-sayers.

READ MORE: Russia just dumped $80 BILLION in US debt

The days of quickly turning over Russia opportunities into short-term cash are rapidly fading, they are a throwback to the 1990’s. Today the major and open opportunities are in the areas for Foreign Direct Investments. The nature of FDI is long term to make regularly recurring sustainable returns on investment.

Long term, Russia always was and increasingly confirms that it is a vibrant and attractive market. There is a significant consumer market with spending power, a well-educated workforce, a wealth of resources and the list goes on. The economic obstacles encountered have largely been imposed from without, and not from the dynamics and energies of the Russian economy itself.

Eventually sanctions will end, although the timeline is anyone’s guess. Meanwhile business continues, and any long-term engagement within Russia by establishing a working presence will yield both short and long-term investment rewards. These will only be amplified when the sanctions regimes are removed. In any event, these aspects are long-term investment decisions and one of the criteria in any risk assessment.

For some added perspective, Russia is ranked by the Financial Times as the No.2 country in Europe in terms of capital investments into Europe. It has a 2017 market share of 9% (US$ 15.9 billion) and includes 203 business projects. This is 2% higher than 2016 and better that 2014/2015 when sanctions were imposed.

Another item of perspective is the Country Risk Premium. All investors consider this when calculating the scope for long-term return on investments. What may surprise some is that Russia is no longer ranked as a very high-risk country. For comparisons sake: The risk premium for Germany is zero (no extra risk), the risk premium for Italy is 2.19%, and for Russia, it is 2.54%. When compared to politically popular investment destinations like Ukraine the risk premium is 10.4%  – food for thought. Bottom line is that the risks of investing in Russia are a smidge higher than investing in Italy.

Russia is ranked 35 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings. The ranking of Russia improved to 35 in 2017 from 40 in 2016 and from 124 in 2010. It may also surprise some to learn that as concerns protecting the rights of minority investors, paying taxes, registering property and some other aspects of the World Bank comparisons, Russia comes out better than Switzerland (See: Rankings).

From operational standpoints, establishing an invested presence in Russia does not mean one must adopt Russian managerial methods or practices. The advantages for established foreign companies is that their management culture is readily applied and absorbed by a smart and willing workforce, enabling a seamless integration given the right training and tools.

The trend towards the ultimate globalization of business despite trade wars, tariffs, sanctions and counter-sanctions is clear. The internet of the planet, the blockchain and speed of information exchange makes it so whether we wish it or not. Personally, I hope that political globalization remains stillborn as geopolitics has a historical mandate to tinker with and play havoc with international trade.

Russia occupies a key strategic position between Europe and Asia. The “west” (US/Europe) have long had at times rather turbulent relationships with China. At the same time the Chinese are quite active investors in both the US and Europe, and western companies are often struggling to understand how to deal with China.

The answer to this conundrum is Russia: this is where East and West will ultimately come together with Russia playing a pivotal role in the relations between the west and China. At the end of the day, and taking the strategic long-term economic view, is what both Chinese and Western companies are investing in when they open their activities in Russia.

If long-term commitment and investment in Russia were simply a matter of transferring funds then I would not be bothering with this opinion article. Without a doubt, there are structural issues with investing in Russia. A still evolving and sometimes unclear rule of law, difficulties obtaining finance for investments directed towards Russia, the unique language and culture of business in the country. Nevertheless, companies that have an understanding and vision of global strategy will manage with these issues and have the means to mitigate them.

Money and other invested resources do not and should not play politics; any investment case when evaluated on objective financial criteria will reveal its fit, or lack of, within a company’s global strategic business objectives. The objective criteria for Russia over any long term horizon is both convincing and strong. This has been repeated by all of the businesspeople I have met with these past few weeks. Without doubt we shall see some new companies coming into the Russian market and objectively exploring the gains their playing fair business football here will yield.

Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Advertisement

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Advertisement
Advertisements
Advertisement
Advertisements

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!

The Duran Newsletter

Trending