|U.S. GETS BACK AT RUSSIA FOR VENEZUELA
MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti military commentator Viktor Litovkin) –
The sanctions imposed by the U.S. State Department on two Russian
companies, Rosoboronexport and Sukhoi, for cooperating with Iran have
nothing to do with such cooperation. Military analysts maintain that this
is only a pretext not born out by the facts.
The Sukhoi aircraft maker has not sold a screw to Tehran in the last seven
or eight years. "How can such a respectable agency as the State
Department speak of our cooperation with Iran?" Sukhoi's management
In reality, the sanctions are an attempt to take revenge for the $3
billion in contracts for military-technical cooperation signed by Moscow
and Caracas, Russian analysts say. This is also another example of
unscrupulous competition on the global arms market and another chapter of
the undeclared trade war the United States has been waging against Russia
since the middle of the 20th century.
The Jackson-Vanick amendment, which the U.S. Congress passed in the early
1970s to punish Moscow for not letting Jews immigrate to Israel, is still
in force, although it has been at least twenty years since Jews and all
other ethnic groups have been able to leave Russia and return at will
without attracting the attention of the authorities or law-enforcement
bodies. Provided, of course, they are not involved in anything illegal.
Nevertheless, this crude amendment sill limits the ability of American and
other firms to sell high-tech equipment to Moscow. It is not that Russian
enterprises and research institutes suffer greatly. After all, high-speed
computers and other equipment can be bought from countries other than the
U.S., but the very fact of nominal trade restrictions on a nation
Washington calls its "strategic partner" is alarming. So are the
latest sanctions against Rosoboronexport and Sukhoi.
Of course, it will be a painful blow to Sukhoi, no matter what its
management might say. These sanctions will not affect its exports of Su
multi-role fighters to Algeria, Indonesia and Venezuela, which account for
the bulk of the corporation's revenues yielding over $2 billion annually.
But the halting of cooperation with Boeing, Hamilton Sundstrand, Honeywell
and other U.S. companies involved in the work on the SuperJet 100,
Sukhoi's new medium-haul passenger jet, will stall its development. Which
means that the first plane will not take off in 2007, as provided for in
the business plan. The delay may be a year or even two, depending on
whether the Russian aircraft maker will have to look for new partners or
wait for the State Department to change its mind and stop hindering U.S.
firms from benefiting from lucrative international contracts.
The sanctions against Rosoboronexport will have a similar outcome. The
company does not have direct contracts with U.S. companies. Recently,
however, the American administration said it was interested in buying
Russian small arms and special weapons for the Iraqi armed forces and
police. There were good reasons to do so: Russian Kalashnikov assault
rifles and submachine guns, as well as other weapons based on them, are
respected in the region. They are also well known there, as Iraq bought a
lot of Russian weapons under Saddam Hussein. Now the Pentagon will have to
buy weapons from Bulgaria, Romania or Egypt. Rosoboronexport and the
Izhevsk plant that produces Kalashnikovs will lose the promised $200
million. Moreover, assault rifles and submachine guns bought in other
countries are unlikely to meet the high quality standards set by the
By introducing these uncalled-for sanctions, the State Department is
creating other problems for American firms. One of them is related to
titanium supplies to Boeing from the Verkhnyaya Salda aluminum plant.
After all, 30-40% of the load-carrying structure in every Boeing airplane
is made of metal supplied by Russia's VSMPO Aviasma. The
multibillion-dollar contract between Boeing and the Urals-based company is
to last for several years. There were even plans for a joint venture.
However, the controlling stake in VSMPO Aviasma will be sold to
Rosoboronexport in the near future. The State Department must be aware of
that. The forthcoming deal has been widely covered by both Russian and
American mass media. Now Boeing will have to look for other titanium
suppliers, but there are not many of them on the global market. Moreover,
the quality of Verkhnyaya Salda titanium is significantly higher than that
of metal offered by other countries.
I will not discuss who will lose more from Washington's short-sighted
trade policy, as this is obvious. It is equally obvious that Boeing can no
longer hope to sell its long-distance airliners to Russia. Aeroflot has
been drafting a contract to buy 22 Boeing 787 planes for $3 billion, but
now, apparently, it will have to turn to its European partner, Airbus,
whose A350 wide-bodied planes are in no way inferior to their American
rival and are even superior in capacity and comfort.
Most probably, the undeclared trade war on Russia waged by the State
Department, as well as some conservative politicians in the White House
and the U.S. Congress, will not allow American firms to make it on the
short list of Gazprom's partners in the Shtokman project. Yet this field
in the Barents Sea, with its huge gas reserves and relatively easy
production, could seriously reduce Washington's dependence on hydrocarbons
from the Middle East and Venezuela.
Apparently, Washington's politicking on the international stage is
becoming a problem not only for its foreign partners but also for its own
businessmen and firms. Nothing can be done about it. Washington needs some
time to realize that the world no longer revolves around the White House
and Capitol Hill. Any short-sighted move by the administration, like the
petty revenge on Russia for its military cooperation with Venezuela, will
sooner or later backfire.-0-