Having shaken off the ‘archival dust’ of the Jackson-Vanik amendment, the United States quickly replaced the obsolete document with the Magnitsky Act. Russia responded with the blacklist of Americans who will be denied Russian visas and imposed a ban on the adoption of Russian children by US citizens.
Like in chess, the game between Moscow and Washington is developing on the basis of a logical scenario. The methods the two countries resort to are not important after all, as the relations between the two countries were destined to deteriorate anyway. This opinion belongs to International Grandmaster Alexei Kuzmin.
"The political duel between the United States and Russia will assume yet more threatening proportions in 2013. Given that the two sides have exhausted all their arguments concerning a European missile defense system, Iran, Syria and the ever-green issue of a Middle East settlement, there are practically no chances for striking an easy deal. A chess player is often confronted with difficult choices where he has to decide whether the oncoming worsening of his position is beneficial. Every grandmaster knows how to provoke the opponent into making a move that could seem dangerous but yields good fruit in the long run. A provocation that fails to hit its target makes your position weaker."
Whatever moves Russia and the US choose to make, they are unlikely to grow into a full-fledged conflict, International Grandmaster Vladislav Tkachev says.
"No high-profile moves, like the Magnitsky and Dima Yakovlev Lists, the creation of new missile defense systems, or support of one of the parties to the Syrian conflict, can spoil relations between Russia and the US. As always, the United States is feigning interest in what Russia has to say but does as it pleases. It reserves the right to set its own rules of conduct. Like in a game of chess, Washington controls the key fields of the chessboard while feeling free to decide whether to exchange pieces or launch a direct attack against the king."
According to Alexei Kuzmin, the recently signed Dima Yakovlev Bill and the law that bans corrupt US officials from opening accounts in Russian banks or entering Russia are strategic moves designed to provoke the opponent into taking symmetrical measures, which in turn could strengthen President Putin’s positions on the ‘domestic policy section’ of the chessboard.
All these moves are but red herring while Moscow is consistently pursuing its agenda moving, slowly but surely, towards the ‘main target’. This is what is bothering Washington, Vladislav Tkachev says.
In general, Russia is against ‘blacklist wars’ or games for raising stakes. The Russian Foreign Ministry said a few days ago that the only reasonable way of handling international relations is a dialogue. But a dialogue presupposes two parties.