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Sanctions on Rosoboronexport

It’s a scary situation when after oil and gas, a country’s top export is arms. Somehow I just don’t see that really helping the world. Although India and China are traditionally the largest buyers, Russia has been ambitiously expanding its weapons customer portfolio and enjoying an estimated 23% growth in sales from last year. It’s not even so much that scary dictators like Qaddafi and Chavez count themselves among the most enthusiastic and loyal customers, but rather what has Washington (and Israel) worried is the big bump up in arms sales to Iran, Syria, and North Korea. Today the United States decided to impose sanctions against Rosoboronexport (along with a dozen of other firms from China, Sudan, Venezuela) which prompted quick and angry responses from Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other officials, which outlined much of the exact same arguments that critics have against Gazprom. It’s the return of the doppelgänger effect

First Lavrov goes for the legal argument: “The United States introduced these sanctions without any basis in international law. We will take that into account in our relations with the United States.“Then he tries the veiled threat: “If some people in Washington think that this would make Russia more amenable to the U.S. approaches with regard to the Iranian nuclear problem, they are wrong.“Then he hits them with the grandiose, great power argument: “It proceeds from the philosophy of the unipolar world. Russia will demand an end to such practice that is absolutely incompatible with a modern world order.“At lastly, Rosoboronexport spokesman Vyacheslav Davidenko tries the anti-competitive, monopoly, pro-free markets argument: “We consider it as another example of unfair competition. (…) We view the imposition of sanctions with regard to the sole Russian facilitator of arms sales as a manifestation of unethical competition.” Indeed, the sanctions could even hurt Boeing.Hmmm… Let’s see here – it’s a violation of international law, it’s an attack on competitive markets, it represents an outdated worldview, and it damages prospects for cooperation. These are all elements of the arguments against Gazprom’s abuses and Russia’s repressive policies. Yes, it seems like Lavrov and Davydenko are reading from a borrowed script….