Cross-posted from Asia Times
Real, hardcore sanctions, if ever applied, would be devastating mostly for North Atlantic Treaty Organization poodles, not Moscow. Meanwhile, (energy) adults continue to do business as usual.
There's no way to understand Cold War 2.0 without a flashback to November 2010, when Vladimir Putin directly addressed German business/industry, proposing an economic community from Lisbon to Vladivostok.
German interest in this key strategic relationship has been reciprocal. Amplified to other nations, that implies in the long run a full European Union-Russia economic/trade integration, and, in the bigger picture, a step closer to Europe-Asia integration. Which translates as absolute anathema for the embattled, Monopoly-addicted hyperpower/hegemon.
For all of US Think Tankland talking and theorizing, breathlessly, about "containment" of a "rogue state" -- which in itself is laughable, as if Russia was Somalia -- the Obama administration's overarching "strategy" is really in a class by itself. This masterpiece of juvenile delinquent diplomacy boils down to "ignore Putin."
Call it the "I don't like you; I don't wanna talk to you; I just wish you'd die" school of diplomacy. How come Talleyrand never thought if it? Well, with advisers such as the astonishing mediocrity Ivo Daalder, a former ambassador to NATO, no wonder Obama does not need enemies.
The sanctions hysteria is designed to force President Putin to bow to the hegemon's whims, as part of the overall "strategy"; forging an "international consensus" to "isolate" Russia and turn it into a "pariah state." "Pariah states" that do energy mega-deals, as in here and here.
Still, the predominant wishful thinking revolves around the economic strangulation of Russia -- as it was relentlessly attempted against Iran (and bravely resisted by Iranians). Inside their bubble, the wishful thinkers even believe Beijing will be on board, oblivious to the fact that Beijing clearly sees the sanction hysteria/ignore Putin "doctrine" as a branch of the "pivoting to Asia" -- which is essentially military containment of China.
In the end, the Kremlin has also reached a similar conclusion: it's useless to talk to Washington. After all, the hegemon's laundry list remains the same -- the Kremlin is not allowed to support popular protests in eastern and southern Ukraine; everyone must submit to the neo-nazi/neo-fascist-allied regime changers in Kiev; and Crimea must be "returned" -- to NATO -- so NATO can kick Moscow out of the Black Sea.
Washington's ultimate wet dream would be to interrupt gas shipments by Gazprom from Russia to the EU -- in fact trade sabotage, which Moscow would undoubtedly interpret as an act of war. Meanwhile, Washington/NATO's "Plan A" remains to lure the Kremlin into an "invasion" -- so Putin can be (in fact already is) denounced as "the new Hitler" and the ultimate threat to the EU.
So much for the "containment/isolation" martini cocktail of arrogance, ignorance, impotence and irresponsibility. Diplomatic finesse? Forget it. In terms of a real diplomat at work, feel free to admit "All We Need Is Lavrov."
Go back to Game of Thrones
Moscow has so many ways to retaliate real hard against the hegemon: in Syria; on the Iran nuclear dossier; on NATO's ignominious withdrawal from Afghanistan via the Northern Distribution Network, which goes through Russia; on the future of Afghanistan.
If the White House and the US State Department really wanted to listen to how Putin frames the relationship between the West and Russia, that has been voiced repeatedly by the Kremlin. Russia expects respect from "our Western partners," who since 1991 have treated it not as "an independent, active participant in international affairs," with "its own national interests that need to be taken into account and respected," but as a backward or dangerous nation to dismiss and "contain."
The historical record clearly shows Washington does not respect the national interests of anybody; the only thing that matters is that they should always be subordinated to Washington's interests.
The Kremlin, in a nutshell, has invited Washington to play realpolitik. Not Monopoly. The Obama administration, at best -- and we are being very lenient here -- plays checkers. Moscow plays chess. A mad drive to instill chaos in Russia's western borderlands while "ignoring" Putin won't change the Kremlin's defense of what it perceives as Russia's national interests.
Let's say the "project" was to seize Ukraine, kick Moscow out of the Sevastopol base, and thus from the Eastern Mediterranean; and then take over Syria, so Qatar -- and not Iran-Iraq-Syria -- may get "its" share of Pipelineistan via Jordan and a Sunni-ruled Syria towards EU markets. The "project" is miserably failing.