Recently, the US Department of the Treasury published the so-called Kremlin Report, a list of Russian officials, politicians, and businessmen close to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. The list also includes major businessmen who are ethnic Azerbaijanis and have business in Azerbaijan.
What influence the Kremlin Report can have upon Azerbaijan, EADaily asked Azerbaijani political analysts Ilgar Velizade and Tofiq Abbasov.
What do you think of the Kremlin Report? What can it result in?
Ilgar Velizade: The US Department of the Treasury list has a symbolic nature and is aimed at provoking a kind of panic effect among the Russian political and business elites. It will result in no practical consequences, as it envisages no mechanisms of implementing sanctions.
Tofiq Abbasov: Excessive attention to the sanctions policy will sooner or later bring about great turmoil and losses for the US. The US strive for playing the role of the global government and imposing on other states and nations their models of establishing democracy, doing business, interacting with each other and so on. But, whatever trivial it may sound, Washington is crossing the line in teaching others what and how they should do.
I guess the Kremlin Report is an attempt to block opportunities of another country to their own benefit. Using such lists, American politicians are forcing political elites, business circles of other countries into the offside position, and impose the atmosphere of hatred and distrust in the world system of axes. It is no coincidence that the united Europe and Southeast Asia are increasingly displeased with the US vigilantism. If we remember that the American sanctions caused damage to not only to businesses of other countries, but the US businesses as well, it should not be ruled out that soon we can see serious manifestations of discontent.
The list contains a series of Azerbaijani businessmen from Russia: Vagit Alwkperov, Araz Agalarov,and others. Can we expect that they would distance themselves from the Russian authorities and withdraw capital to other countries, for instance, Azerbaijan?
Ilgar Velizade: It would be absolutely wrong to expect such things happen. All those people are closely connected with the Russian political establishment; many dimensions of their businesses pose strategic interest to Russia. Any such step would be treated as hostile, especially in the current situation, and will result in a response. It is not that frightful to be on the list of those under sanctions than to be in the list of people, for instance, evading taxes in the homeland.
Tofiq Abbasov: I think it can be ruled out. All the people blacklisted by the US government are fosterlings and proteges of the Russian business. Washington ties them to the Russian authorities, portraying it as an atmosphere of total oligarchization. One cannot insist that business people should have no connections with political elites at all. This or that way, business people have ties with government officials.
Isn’t it the same in the United States? It is the place where practices of political and business lobbying flourish and politicians and businessmen are developing partner relations within frameworks of such practices.
Why should Russian businessmen leave their bosom? Should they do this to be liked in the USA, the country that punishes them?
In any country, authorities for successful implementation of big projects get in touch with the business. This is one of the keys to success when it comes to complicated and many-stage action plans.
And I cannot see any reasons for withdrawing capital from Russia. Besides, there is a moral side in the issue: those people earned their money in Russia. How ethical is to withdraw the property from a country that gave a place to test their business capabilities? Well, they are to decide what and where to invest. As far as I know, they have invested in Azerbaijan as well. Some of them left our market, but it does not mean that they will not come back. In business, everything depends on the situation.
Will the official Baku assist those businessmen somehow taking into account their assistance to Azerbaijan?
Ilgar Velizade: Baku will continue keeping distance regarding these issues.
Tofiq Abbasov: This is the question to be addressed not to the Azerbaijani government, but to the national business elite that has ties with colleagues who were born in Azerbaijan but now live and are doing business in Russia. Well, the Azerbaijani authorities will not make a secret of the fact that they are ready to assist in drawing significant investments into the Azerbaijani economy. Moreover, for those born in Azerbaijan, peculiarities of the national market and traditions are familiar. Again, this is a personal issue for every businessman and every certain situation.
The USA threatens with sanctions to those countries that cooperate with Russia in the military and technical field. How can it affect the relations between Baku and Moscow, particularly, purchase of Russian weapons by Azerbaijan?
Ilgar Velizade: In no way. Russia is selling weapons to dozens of countries all over the worldю Saudi Arabia is on the list of buyers. I have never heard that Washington ever thought of imposing sanctions against the kingdom, neither have I seen any reports that King Salman is going to cancel a weapons contract with Russia. What should we expect from Baku in this case?
Tofiq Abbasov: One of the reasons for the American activities in the sanctions field is the Russian offensive in global markets where military technologies are traded. Moscow is pressing Washington hard by snatching the strategic initiative in selling precision equipment.
While Washington managed to kick out from the Russian saddle such a profitable partner as Ukraine and re-orientate its military machine towards western standards, Moscow decided to take revenge in other directions. Now, clients of the Russian military industry are such closest allies of the United States as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and others. Azerbaijan is on the list of Russia’s trade partners, but it does not take leading positions, by the way.
However, it is Baku’s sovereign right to choose a partner in the military cooperation.
Interviewed by Anar Huseinov