‘Russia is trying to protect itself from US economic warfare’
Caleb Maupin is a radical journalist and political analyst who lives in New York City. Originally from Ohio, he studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College. In addition to his journalism, analysis, and commentary, he has engaged in political activism. He is a member of the Workers World Party and Fight Imperialism – Stand Together (FIST). He is a youth organizer for the International Action Center and was involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement from its planning stages in August 2011. He has worked against police brutality, mass incarceration, and imperialist war. He works to promote revolutionary ideology, and to support all who fight against the global system of monopoly capitalist imperialism.
RT:People have called this a retaliation for Western sanctions on Russia. But how do you think the two sets of sanctions actually match up?
Caleb Maupin: It is important to be clear what sanctions are – economic warfare. When the US or Western countries sanction a country, they are trying to cut it off from international trade and that results in a lot of suffering in that country. And because the world economy is centered around Western banks and corporations, they have the ability to attack countries. So, Russia is responding to what is being done by the US. The leaders of Russia have made clear that they have no desire for a conflict with the US. They are not seeking any aggression, but yet the US is attacking them. The US is putting them in a corner. The US is overthrowing the democratic government of Ukraine. The US continues to put these sanctions on Russia. So Russia is taking action to protect itself. This is economic warfare between two countries and the US is clearly the aggressor.
RT:Western sanctions are essentially self-harming. So what do you think of these Russian ones? How much will they damage the people they are intending to damage? And how much will they actually harm Russia?
CM: We’ll only have to see what happens. The whole situation is extremely unfortunate. The Russian government does not want a confrontation with the US. It is US aggression which pushed Russia into a corner to take action like this. It would be one thing if there were hostilities on both sides, but that is not the case. The US cannot allow any competitors in the global market to emerge, whether it is Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela. Any country that emerges and is a competitor to the US – especially as Russia is a competitor in oil and natural gas – the US simply wants to beat them down and suppress them. This is the economic interest of the US. The US hegemony must be maintained and that requires actions like this, which are detrimental to human life and human needs all across the world. People are going to be harmed by these sanctions not just in Russia, but all over the world. Many of the US allies in Britain and in Germany are also going to be harmed by these sanctions. These sanctions on Russia are very harmful to Germany. This will cause more rivalry and more tension. Russia has no choice; they have to respond to this attack.
RT:We are only getting initial details of these Russian sanctions. But, by comparison, the Western ones were attacking financial institutions, major banks, Russian airlines. What we are getting so far from Russia are meat imports, vegetable imports. To me it doesn’t seem like we are even talking about the same kind of extent here. Do you see them as retaliation?
CM: Russia clearly has to do something. Imagine someone putting someone against the wall and threatening them. At some point they will have to push back. And either they push back in the same way or with the same measures – that is that person’s decision. But the fault of this economic conflict lies with the US and their continued aggression against Russia. It is really unfortunate because Russian leaders really do not want a conflict with the US. No sensible leader would want a conflict with the US. It shows that we are in a period of economic crisis. The ability of Wall Street and bankers to make profit is limited. So whatever profits can be made are much more competitive and they are much more desperate to control the markets. They simply can’t allow Russia to rise in the global markets, especially with natural gas. There is hydraulic fracking, which has made natural gas in the US much more abundant. And there seems to be too much natural gas and the price of natural gas seems to be going down. It is creating false scarcity. The more you can remove your competitor from the market, the more false scarcity can exist, the more you can remain dominant. Any country that emerges as a natural gas or an oil exporter becomes a rival of the US, and the US is forced to beat them down. It is a horrific reality. It is a fight over profit.