“A US blockade of Russia would be equal to a declaration of war under international law,” said the head of the Russian Senate’s Information Policy Committee, Aleksey Pushkov, commenting on a report that US Internal Secretary Ryan Zinke proposed deploying US naval forces to block Russian energy from hitting Middle East markets.
“The United States has that ability, with our Navy, to make sure the sea lanes are open, and, if necessary, to blockade … to make sure that their energy does not go to market,” he said.
Zinke was addressing the attendees of an event hosted by the Consumer Energy Alliance, a non-profit group which styles itself as the “voice of the energy consumer” in the US.
“I believe the reason they are in the Middle East is they want to broker energy just like they do in eastern Europe, the southern belly of Europe,” he reportedly said, referring to Russia as a “one trick pony” with an economy dependent on fossil fuels.
Zinke’s claim that Russian energy trade expansion is the real motive behind Russia’s involvement in Syria was derided by Pushkov as “absolute nonsense.”
The very idea that Russia could potentially supply energy to the Middle East, which is literally “oozing with oil,” is absolutely detached from reality, scoffed Pushkov. Indeed, Russia does not supply any energy to the region, which is itself a major exporter of oil, and has never announced plans to do so.
The Russian senator added that Zinke’s statement is “on par” with Sarah Palin’s absurd claim that she was qualified to handle foreign policy talk about Russia since “they’re our next-door neighbors, and you can actually see Russia here from Alaska.” The former Alaska governor made the vapid statement during an interview while campaigning as the Republican vice-presidential candidate for John McCain in the 2008 US general election.
Attempts to exert pressure on Russia “are not going to end in anything good,” a member of the Russian Senate’s Defense and Security Committee, Franz Klintsevich, told journalists, adding that they would lead “to a major scandal” at the very least, and Washington “should clearly understand it.”
Russian MPs reacted with admonishment for Zinke’s provocative words, calling his rhetoric “disturbing.”
“It is unsettling that our partners once again resort to threats, sanctions and unfriendly actions instead of discussing the pressing international issues,” said Anton Morozov, a member of the State Duma International Affairs Committee. He also said that Russia “has something to respond with” but stressed that such actions would only lead to an escalation of tensions, and called for dialogue instead.
Washington seems to be especially bothered by Moscow’s international trade recently. The Trump administration has been seeking to replace Russia as Europe’s biggest gas supplier by boosting exports of American liquefied natural gas (LNG), even though Russian gas is a much cheaper option for Europe.
US officials, including President Donald Trump himself, have repeatedly pressed Germany to pull out of the “inappropriate” Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which is set to double Russia’s natural gas transport capacity to 110 billion cubic meters. While Moscow has repeatedly stated that it is a purely economic project, Trump claims it will make Germany a “captive” of Russia.
The US is not focusing on the energy trade alone, as it has also threatened to impose sanctions on countries buying Russian arms in what could be another example of competition between the two nations. These efforts, however, seem to be in vain as well.
Most recently, India cleared the way for the purchase of Russian frigates and air defense systems. Turkey also defied threats from the US and said it does not need anyone’s permission to buy Russia’s S-400 missile systems. Even close US ally Saudi Arabia is now in talks with Russia to purchase the same defense systems. Moscow has repeatedly denounced US attempts to hamper its trade under various pretexts as unfair competition.
* This article was automatically syndicated and expanded from RT International.
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