Whatever friendly feelings United States President Donald Trump might personally hold toward Moscow, the anti-Russian policy of his administration is even bolder than the course set in the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency. This conclusion was articulated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who expressed his dismay about the wave of “Russophobic hysteria” that, he said, had swept Washington (Russiancouncil.ru, November 30). Lavrov had shared that opinion before Michael Flynn, the former national security advisor in Trump’s administration, pleaded guilty of lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about his contacts with Russian officials and opted to cooperate with the investigation of special counsel Robert Moeller. This investigation is now expected to produce more evidence of Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential elections (Gazeta.ru, November 30). Stricter implementation of the law on sanctions is certain to follow, and Moscow is bracing for more punishment and preparing responses.
The Russian economy can be maintained at its just-above-zero growth trajectory only if Moscow’s agreement with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on production cuts is sustained, thus supporting the oil price on its current plateau (Forbes.ru, November 30). Greater worries in the business elite pertain to the personal sanctions aimed at oligarchs with close ties to the Kremlin, which allegedly are being investigated by U.S. financial intelligence with alarming prejudice (Rosbalt, November 30). Huge fortunes evacuated to Western “havens” by carefully hidden channels are in danger, and even family members enjoying the “good life” in Monaco or Miami could feel the squeeze (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, November 28). It is well known in Russian business-political circles that the US State Department under Trump has not been particularly active in preparing new sanctions, so the news about the possible departure of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson brings more worries (RBC, December 1).