The Russian government today banned a number of top US leaders from visiting Russia, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (who the Russians spell “Harry Reed”).
The Russians were apparently confusing Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada with Democratic Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island. Which is a bit embarrassing, but also telling.
How do you let your Ministry of Foreign Affairs mix up the name of the guy you’re imposing sanctions on, especially when he’s one of the most well-known names in politics?
And lest anyone claim this was a translation, or more precisely transliteration, error, this wasn’t a translation or transliteration: the Russians wrote Reid’s name in English. When writing someone’s name in their own native tongue, you don’t write it phonetically – you write it correctly. Especially when you’re the Ministry of Foreign Affairs writing on a hugely important issue. All they had to do was check with the Google. This was amateurish.
There’s a very not-ready-for-prime-time element to all that is Russia. They invade well. But that’s about it.
The move was made in response to increasing US sanctions against senior Russians for that country’s invasion and annexation of Ukrainian Crimea.
And the recent US sanctions on Russia, announced today, are reportedly quite strong, targetting Putin’s inner circle:
The names on the latest list of sanctions released by the White House on Thursday read like a who’s who of Vladimir Putin’s innermost circle — ex-KGB colleagues, top advisors and the men believed to hold the Russian president’s personal pursestrings….
The Kremlin must be freaking out….
The first round of sanctions announced by Obama on Monday was symbolic but ultimately toothless… These sanctions are different. They hit as close to Putin without targeting the man himself.
The thing is, who would ever travel to Russia anyway?
In contrast, a number of top Russians, especially the wealthy, like to travel and vacation in both Europe and America, especially New York (and probably San Francisco). And they’re increasingly being hit by US and European sanctions.
Which raises the question of whether there are any sanctions the Russians can impose on America that don’t hurt them even more than us? No American, other than business people, is interested in traveling to Russia. Okay, some tourists – but banning them hurts Russia more than us. American students? Whatever. So what can Russia actually do to retaliate that doesn’t hurt it even more?
I suppose the Russians could ban the sale of Coke and Pepsi in Russia. But again,that hurts local Russian distributors.
Or the Russians could cut off Apple’s new deal to sell the iPhone via Russian telecommunications giant MegaFon, an affiliate of Russian anti-gay hate site VKontakte, a site that permits neo-Nazis to organize kidnappings of young gays. But I’d say good riddance – Apple shouldn’t be doing business with Russian oligarch, and friend of Putin, Alisher Usmanov, who controls VK.com and MegaFon, in the first place.
So what else?
Here’s Russia’s vewy scawy list of American officials who will no longer be able to take their spring break in sunny Magadan. (“Come for the neo-Nazis, stay for the… well, just stay.”)