“Kremlin Billionaires list – a kind of

“Kremlin List” Made Public: What’s in
Store for US-Russia Relationship?

                                                  
Arkady SAVITSKY

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So,
the long-awaited “Kremlin
List” happened to be a purely formal action. What was made public is just a
meaningless compilation of names partly taken from a phone book with some of
them cribbed from the Forbes’
Billionaires list – a kind of Who Is
Who in Russia   reference publication. The administration had
to release the document as required by law, so it adopted the “get what you
want and leave me alone” approach. At least, that’s what the unclassified part
of the report looks like. Technically correct, the list is just
a mockery in its essence. Nothing in the report indicates that the US is
in possession of information about the individuals’ involvement in any
wrongdoings.  The paper says it is not a
sanctions list though Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said
it would result in restrictive measures. He did not specify the date.

It’s
not the “Kremlin List” that really matters. On Jan.29, one day before the document
was made public on Jan.30, Republican members of the House Intelligence
Committee voted to release a
classified memorandum, revealing the misconduct by the FBI and the Justice
Department in the Russia investigation. The paper expresses grave concern over
the way the investigation, launched by the Obama administration, was conducted.
The lawmakers took the decision ignoring the position
of the Justice Department, which had warned not take this “extraordinary reckless”
step. It’s highly probable that if an investigation into the abuses is
launched, the trail will lead to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

It’s
not Donald Trump but rather his opponents who will be at center of the scandal
as media will be raising ballyhoo (and they will as practice shows).   Everything will turn around to put the
Democratic backers of Hillary Clinton on the defensive with the president’s
hands untied giving him much more freedom to implement his Russia policy. He
won’t keep one eye on Congress when it comes to dealing with Russia. Trump
will become the defender of democracy threatened by the Clinton’s camp. The “Kremlin’s
List” will be on the backburner.

Russia
knows well all the ins and outs of US politics. It is reserved and patient but
it cannot abstain from striking back forever. Both governments realize this
fact and act accordingly. They don’t sever the contacts, so that wouldn’t have
to start from scratch when the times change.

To
the contrary, they do what is possible under the circumstances. It’s enough to
look at the news that don’t hit headlines but tell about the events of great
significance. For instance, Sergey Naryshkin, the head of Russian foreign
intelligence service, has recently
visited the United States to discuss terrorism. The Russian foreign intelligence
chief is under sanctions but the visit was important enough to make the US executive
turn a blind eye on this fact. Naryshkin was granted entry to the country.  It’s   hard to imagine such a high ranking official
coming   alone.

So,
the information exchange with Russia is too important to be affected by ups and
downs in the relationship. It’s enough to remember how the interaction
between the intelligence services of both countries prevented a terrorist act
in Saint-Petersburg last December. In his recent interview
with Russian Echo Moskvy (Echo
of Moscow) radio
station, US Ambassador to Moscow Jon Huntsman said
the time is propitious for a Russia-US bilateral summit. He also emphasized the
importance of military-to-military communications. Until now, the leaders have
met only on the sidelines of top level international events. A summit could
change a lot of things, addressing many problems beyond the scope of bilateral
relationship. 

 

2018
is an election year in the United States. The Democrats’ chances will diminish
greatly when the secret memo is released. With economy going strong, the
chances for Republicans to strengthen their position in both houses look good
enough. So do the opportunities for the president to keep his pre-election
promise to improve the relationship with Russia.