Any reader who has been following this blog knows that I have been alleging that the republican President Donald Trump and his close surrogates’ goal have been to lift the sanctions imposed on Russia by the USA and NATO allies from 2014-2017.The republican President Donald Trump along with his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are currently (May-June 2017) hard at work to attain their goal of lifting sanctions against Russia which were enacted against it by US and G7 European countries as part of NATO because of Russia’s 2014 unprovoked invasion into Crimea, Ukraine and its plan to annex it. This is why Russia is no longer part of what was the G8 conference.
But now in June 2017, there is confirmation, that the White House had been taking actions to have the sanctions against Russia lifted as soon as they moved into the White House.
The president, himself probably has financial dealings with Russian entities based on his past history to where he would benefit from lifting the US sanctions against Russia.
Mr. Tillerson who retired as Exxon’s CEO, had negotiated the 2012 deal of the century between Exxon and the Russian oil company Rosneft, for oil exploration and drilling in the arctic area, valued by experts at upwards of $500 billion dollars.
When Rex Tillerson retired as Exxon’s CEO, he did not leave it in good shape. It is heavily indebted and it is the target of numerous human rights’ lawsuits which have yet to be resolved. The reviving of the 2012 deal would place Exxon in a much better financial position.
Both appear to be highly motivated to lift those pesky sanctions imposed upon Russia FOR PERSONAL REASONS.
Remember that one of the first projects taken on by the president’s National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn, before he resigned in February 2017, was to set up a peace deal to be agreed upon by Russian and Ukrainian officials to where the 2014 sanctions against Russia could then be lifted.
As per the 2/19/17 NY Times report by Megan Twohey and Scott Shane, “A week before Michael T. Flynn resigned as national security adviser, a sealed proposal was hand-delivered (by Michael D. Cohen.) to his office, outlining a way for President Trump to lift sanctions against Russia,”
After Mr. Flynn departed the White House because he had been caught lying about his own discussion of sanctions with the Russian ambassador. But this proposed peace plan for Ukraine and Russia remains, along with those pushing for it like Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer; Felix H. Sater, a business associate who helped Mr. Trump with deals involving Russians; and Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.
Finally, Exxon tried the direct approach by requesting a waiver to where it could continue its arctic explorations despite the US sanctions against Russia. On 4/21/17: The US Department of the Treasury denied Exxon’s request for a waiver despite its 2012 contract with Rosneft.
HERE IS THE REST OF THE STORY…
On June 1, 2017, Michael Isikoff of the Yahoo News penned the following report, “How the Trump administration’s secret efforts to ease Russia sanctions fell short.”
“In the early weeks of the Trump administration, former Obama administration officials and State Department staffers fought an intense, behind-the-scenes battle to head off efforts by incoming officials to normalize relations with Russia, according to multiple sources familiar with the events.”
“Unknown to the public at the time, top Trump administration officials, almost as soon as they took office, tasked State Department staffers with developing proposals for the lifting of economic sanctions, the return of diplomatic compounds and other steps to relieve tensions with Moscow.”
“These efforts to relax or remove punitive measures imposed by President Obama in retaliation for Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and meddling in the 2016 election alarmed some State Department officials, who immediately began lobbying congressional leaders to quickly pass legislation to block the move, the sources said.”
“There was serious consideration by the White House to unilaterally rescind the sanctions,” said Dan Fried, a veteran State Department official who served as chief U.S. coordinator for sanctions policy until he retired in late February. He said in the first few weeks of the administration, he received several “panicky” calls from U.S. government officials who told him they had been directed to develop a sanctions-lifting package and imploring him, “Please, my God, can’t you stop this?”
“They contacted Capitol Hill allies — including Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., the ranking minority member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — to urge them to move quickly to pass legislation that would “codify” the sanctions in place, making it difficult for President Trump to remove them.”
“The previously unreported efforts by Fried and others to check the Trump administration’s policy moves cast new light on the unseen tensions over Russia policy during the early days of the new administration.”
“It also potentially takes on new significance for congressional and Justice Department investigators in light of reports that before the administration took office Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his chief foreign policy adviser, Michael Flynn, discussed setting up a private channel of communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak — talks that appear to have laid the groundwork for the proposals that began circulating right after the inauguration.”
A senior White House official confirmed that the administration began exploring changes in Russia sanctions as part of a broader policy review that is still ongoing. “We’ve been reviewing all the sanctions — and this is not exclusive to Russia,” the official said. “All the sanctions regimes have mechanisms built in to alleviate them. It’s been our hope that the Russians would take advantage of that” by living up to Moscow’s agreement to end the Ukraine conflict, but they didn’t do so.”
“But there was nothing said in public about specific steps the new administration took toward reaching the kind of deal the president had talked about during the campaign — without requiring the Russians to acknowledge responsibility for the annexation of Crimea or Moscow’s “influence campaign” during the 2016 election.”
“Just days after President Trump took office, officials who had moved into the secretary of state’s seventh-floor office sent a “tasking” order to the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs to develop a menu of options to improve relations with Russia as part of a deal in exchange for Russian cooperation in the war against the Islamic State in Syria, according to 2 former officials.”
Since this was the same State Department bureau that had helped develop the punitive measures in the first place, and actively pushed for them under the leadership of Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland, who had resigned, the tasking order left staffers feeling “deeply uncomfortable,” said one source, who asked not to be identified.”
“These concerns led some department officials to also reach out to Malinowski, an Obama political appointee who had just stepped down. Malinowski said he, like Fried, called Cardin and other congressional allies, including aides to Sen. John McCain, and urged them to codify the sanctions — effectively locking them in place — before Trump could lift them.”
“The lobbying effort produced some immediate results: On Feb. 7, Cardin and Sen. Lindsay Graham introduced bipartisan legislation to bar the administration from granting sanctions relief without first submitting a proposal to do so for congressional review. “
“Russia has done nothing to be rewarded with sanctions relief,” Graham said in a statement at the time. If the U.S. were to lift sanctions without “verifiable progress” by Russia in living up to agreements in Ukraine, “we would lose all credibility in the eyes of our allies in Europe.” added Cardin in his own statement.”
“The proposed bill lost some of its urgency 6 days later when Flynn resigned as White House national security adviser following disclosures he had discussed political sanctions relief with Kislyak during the transition and misrepresented those talks to Vice President Mike Pence.”
“But the political battles over the issue are far from over. Cardin, McCain and Graham are separately pushing another sanctions bill — imposing tough new measures in response to Russia’s election interference. The measures have so far been blocked for consideration within the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by its chairman, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who says he wants to first hear the administration’s position on the issue.”
(Meanwhile Tom Malinowksi) “who had stepped down as President Obama’s assistant secretary of state for human rights), said he is concerned that there may be other, less public ways the administration can undermine the Russian sanctions. He noted that much of their force results from parallel sanctions imposed by the European Union, whose members must unanimously renew them each year.” (Malinowski, who before he left office announced his own round of sanctions against senior Russian officials for human rights abuses under a law, the Magnitsky Act.)
“I had this nightmare vision of (White House senior adviser) Steve Bannon or (National Security Council staffer) Sebastian Gorka calling in the Hungarian ambassador and telling them President Trump would not be displeased” if his country opposed the renewal of sanctions, he said.”