There is a lot of discussion in the media about the Magnitsky Act and Russia’s response to it. I would like to express my opinion on this topic. In principle, the situation with the Magnitsky list is quite clear. Any political game always needs some tools to influence the players. This list is one of those tools to influence Russia to put pressure on its internal and external affairs. It partially replaced the Jackson-Vanik amendment. Although, of course, they are not of comparable importance, they have the same meaning. And the fact that the Magnitsky list was adopted right after the amendment was repealed is very symbolic.
In other words, the U.S. has invented for itself a tool with a long-term effect. This tool can be activated and de-activated depending on changing circumstances, and a corresponding campaign can be raised around it. How they are going to use it, time will tell. Now, at the initial stage, they have decided to limit the list mostly to people directly related to the Magnitsky case. But in the future, they can expand it or alter it depending on changes in the political situation and the changing environment.
The reason the list is not very large for now is not so much due to the good will of the U.S. but to the negative perceptions that it caused in Russia. That is, I cannot rule out that the list could have been longer. But the rather sharp reaction to the law in Russia, I think, also forced the U.S. to somewhat soften specific measures. It is keeping this “stick” in reserve, and if anything happens, it will whip it out.
As for our response, since it is taking such hostile actions against us, then we too have to respond because that is how things work in diplomatic practice. These lists will not cause much damage to them or us, but the diplomatic back and forth has begun. Needless to say, the Magnitsky Act has become a factor in our relations becoming colder. I believe the relations never got warmer in the first place, so all this talk of them getting colder is nonsense. Everything that seemed to us like warmer relations was us giving in. Of course, the U.S. smiled and patted us on the shoulder, while we thought that this was warmth. The U.S., on the other hand, did not give in even a little bit. As soon as we tried to speak up and dig in our heels, the talk about a cool-off started right away.
As for the economic component of the law, it is a blessing in disguise. Our officials and businessmen have no business being there. If they want to live there, let them live there. So maybe this law will be of use to us. But it is not because the U.S. is such a benefactor; the usefulness is in spite of and not because of it. Our relations with the U.S. are strained for one simple reason: There is an objective difference of interests. The point is not that we are bad, not sufficiently open or not flexible enough. Many countries have the same tension in their relations with the U.S.
The desire of the U.S. to dominate this world is still present. The conflict of interests is an objective reality. Even if we completely abandon our interests, it is not certain that we will have good relations with the U.S. But I believe that our country has a need for an independent policy. We cannot subordinate our foreign policy to others’ interests.