On Friday, January 26, Washington DC added 21 Russian and / or Ukrainian national citizens and nine companies to the blacklist of sanctioned people by the US Treasury Department. The Russian Foreign Ministry opined that this action will only hurt US companies and amounts to just a “show of impotence.”
This was not a new imposition of sanctions, but a further addition by the Department based on the US response to the rejoining of Crimea with the Russian Federation in 2014. Since the US and most UN member nations believe that this was an “annexation”, taken by the Russian government against the will of the residents of Crimea, the tightening of sanctions referred to the activity of companies who have been involved in rebuilding the newly Russian republic since the Crimeans held a referendum about this matter.
One person added was Russian Deputy Energy Minister, Andrey Cherezov, who was sanctioned by the EU over his role in the delivery of turbines to Crimea last year.
Another was Sergey Topor-Gilka, head of Technopromexport, a Russian engineering company. Multiple subsidiaries of the oil producer Surgutnetfegaz were also included on the blacklists.
Since Crimea’s rejoining to the Russian Federation, one big project has been to provide a connection to the Russian mainland. The Crimean peninsula connects to the Ukrainian mainland, and so a large bridge has been under construction to link Kerch, Crimea to the Russian mainland’s Taman Peninsula to the east. When completed, this bridge will feature both automobile and rail passage.
Another has been the simple act of infrastructure upgrading and modernization. Both Ukraine and Russia suffered massive infrastructure decay, as did all former Soviet republics. Because of the massive corruption that seized the region in the 1990s and beyond, both Russia and Ukraine had massive problems with basic services – roads, utilities and so on. Russia has done better with getting things sorted out, but by all accounts Ukraine is still in a really bad state, and the promises of American help and support seem geared only to getting people angry and propaganda attacks as well as military attacks against the people in the two breakaway eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk.
The comparison of stories of life between the two locations is interesting and stunning. There is a good chance that the increasing blacklisting is an attempt by elements in the American government to save face. As noted in this piece by Paul Goncharoff, the nature and scope of American sanctions is basically a mixture of annoying and stupid.
Russia says the sanctions will only hurt American business. Based on the progress of things in Crimea, it appears that this is correct. It further appears that the sanction blacklisting is itself largely window-dressing for the American government, to create the appearance of action.