The day before, Washington took another unfriendly step against our country. The United States imposed sanctions on several dozen Russian legal entities and individuals, expelled new diplomats, and also imposed a ban on operations with Russia's sovereign public debt. The cynicism lies in the fact that all this was done against the background of an alleged attempt to "normalize relations" by President Joe Biden. How can and should Moscow respond to this attack?
The formal reason for the next package of restrictive measures was the unsubstantiated accusations of the White House of the interference of Russian special services in the 2020 US presidential elections, as well as of a large-scale cyberattack on the American company SolarWinds, which was allegedly carried out by the notorious "Russian hackers". Summoned "to the carpet" at the Russian Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Joe Sullivan confirmed that Washington intends to continue to "hold accountable" our country for actions aimed at "harming the sovereignty or allies, partners and values" that the United States professes. Despite the fact that the meeting, according to the American diplomat, was "respectful," a business conversation on Smolenskaya Square clearly did not work out. According to the statement of the official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Maria Zakharova, Moscow is currently actively working on counter-sanctions:
Our answer is inevitable. It will be worked out. You will find out about him, I think, in the near future. Our experts are now directly involved in its preparation.
So what could be this inevitable answer? For adequate forecasting, several factors must be taken into account.
At first, the restrictive measures were not as tough as they could have been. Russia has not been disconnected from the SWIFT system, which has been scaring us since 2014. The sanctions have been imposed on primary transactions with OFZs, but come into force only from June 14, and there are no bans on the purchase and sale of domestic securities in the secondary market.
Secondly, the Kremlin is clearly not ready to "wave the sword" too actively in response. This was clearly made clear by the head of the profile committee of the Upper House of Parliament, Vladimir Dzhabarov:
Of course, we will select a countermeasure option that is most sensitive to the Americans, but in a way that does not harm us.
Yes, the root of the problem lies precisely in the fact that economic и technological cooperation between the United States and the Russian Federation is not too deep, and our range of possible sanctions instruments is not very large, and almost all of them are "double-edged". And now let's go through the list of possible countermeasures, and the specially adopted law "On measures of influence (counteraction) on unfriendly actions of the United States of America and other foreign states" will help us in this.
The first thing that this normative act proposes to do is to suspend or terminate cooperation with unfriendly states and organizations affiliated with them. In this context, to all appearances, the Russian Foreign Ministry will be able to mirror the US by expelling 10 American diplomats.
The second package of counter-sanctions measures involves restricting Russian exports to the United States of products and raw materials. I immediately recall domestic titanium, of which about 30% of American-made liners consist. Apart from him, Moscow could ban the sale of rare earth metals such as scandium, gallium, bismuth and antimony to America. Restricting supplies would be a painful blow to the Boeing aircraft corporation. Unfortunately, this is exactly the case when the Russian countermeasure will be double-edged.
The management of VSMPO-Avisma, the only domestic titanium producer, which in this case will be left without a guaranteed sales market in the United States, is categorically opposed. Probably, with such retaliatory steps, one could wait until the real restoration of the national civil aircraft industry, which would become the main consumer of Russian titanium. If our country produces its own competitive aircraft using domestic titanium, which will not be used for Boeing's needs, this will be the best countermeasure, won't it? But this will require from the authorities an adequate comprehensive industrial policy for the next few decades.
The third package of measures, which follows from the aforementioned federal law, provides for the restriction or termination of the import of foreign goods, raw materials or services into Russia. And this is probably the most promising response measure to date, since it hits the wallet of American corporations directly. The development of a regulatory act indicated the possibility of banning the import of agricultural, tobacco and alcoholic products from the United States into our country, as well as other food and raw materials. Let us add to this that it is worth considering the issue of restricting the work of American corporations, their services and services in Russia, while simultaneously supporting domestic counterparts. In particular, just a few days ago, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke about the refusal to use foreign payment systems and the transition in international settlements from the dollar to other currencies.
To summarize what has been said, it turns out that the set of tools for retaliatory sanctions is not so great in our country, but the most correct direction among them will be real import substitution both in industry and in the service sector, which will reduce Russia's dependence on the collective West, led by USA.