Sanctions against Russia Embolden BDS Proponents

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Western governments have imposed significant sanctions on Moscow. Private actors have joined in; as Eugene Kontorovich notes, the Metropolitan Opera, Wimbledon, and numerous film festivals have banned Russian artists or athletes. Kontorovich examines the recent history of Western sanctions and their effectiveness, as well as what, if any, broader cultural or moral purposes they serve. While noting that sanctions against Russia have “whet the appetite of opponents of Israel,” he also distinguishes between the aims of those pushing to sanction Russia and the champions of BDS.

To start, the Western sanctions regime against Russia does not, in fact, demonstrate some moral or legal measure in international affairs. Russian military operations in Chechnya, Georgia, Crimea, eastern Ukraine, and Syria between 2000 and 2015, for example, elicited no such response. When Vladimir Putin invaded Georgia in 2008 and conquered a fifth of the country, the international community barely shrugged; indeed, some criticized Tbilisi for its stubborn insistence on restoring the country’s pre-invasion borders. Just a few years later, when Russia hosted the Winter Olympics, it housed workers in Olympic village barracks built in the newly occupied territory; there were no cries of “illegal settlement construction.”

Economic sanctions are merely a tool, like bullets—a continuation of politics by other means, always linked to the strategic goals of the countries imposing them. Sanctions themselves are morally neutral—it all depends on the circumstances in which they are imposed. It is not “hypocritical” or “inconsistent” for the United States to support sanctions on Russia while opposing them against Israel, any more than it is to support sanctions against Venezuela while opposing them against Mexico.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: BDS, Russia, Sanctions, War in Ukraine

 

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy