America’s former ambassador to Russia explained on MSNBC on Monday why Vladimir Putin likely always assumed that President Donald Trump would deliver and end sanctions against Russia.
Michael McFaul was interviewed by the host of “The Rachel Maddow Show” on Monday.
“Let me ask you about the latest developments here in terms of this breaking news tonight about what Attorney General William Barr traveling the world trying to get foreign governments to help him in an investigation that the White House hopes will undo the U.S. attribution that Russia attacked our election, that’s just one of the developments that are being reported in this fast-amusing story. What’s your take on that one in particular?” Maddow asked.
“Just outrageous, I just can’t believe it,” McFaul replied. “I have to tell you, honestly, I think that we get to the end of the craziness and then there’s a new revelation.”
“Attorney General Barr — of all people — should know better about doing this,” the former Obama administration official explained.
“It does underscore to me what happens when people get close to President Trump and how he pulls them into his way of doing things, his way of conducting foreign policy — if we can even call it that — and it really saddens me as an American,” he continued. “This is not in America’s national interest. This damages our reputation around the world.”
“In terms of the way Russia has suffered with U.S. and U.S.-led sanctions, obviously they were sanctioned aggressively in U.S.-led, international effort after they invaded Ukraine. They were sanctioned additionally by the U.S. because of their 2016 election interference. There have been other actions by Russia including the attempted assassination on British soil for which there were both U.S. And international sanctions,” Maddow noted. “How tough have these sanctions been on the Russian economy and on Putin and how much of a priority is it for them to get these sanctions lifted?”
“You know, we academics debate how to exactly measure the percentage of how much damage it’s done to the economy,” he replied. “Some say 1%, others go up to 2%. And remember, it’s compounded, so that’s one part of the argument.”
“The second is the actual people on the sanctions list,” he continued. “Believe me, I know some of them, it hurts them and some of them are very close to Putin. One of them, that we discussed before, for instance, Oleg Deripaska spent hundreds of millions of dollars to get off the sanctions list and invested in Kentucky,” he noted. “That shows you the level of effort he was putting in.”
“But you think the most impressive evidence for how important it is to get the sanctions lifted is how much time and attention Vladimir Putin has put to the issue. As you very rightly described in your opening remarks today, it is a central talking point that he does all the time, and they’ve always thought that someday, some way, President Trump would finally deliver on what he promised during the campaign in 2016,” McFaul concluded.