Why Russia cared about Election 2016
By Kirsten Borror
Russia helped Trump rebuild himself in the mid-2000s after his bankruptcies kept US lenders away from him. Russian oligarchs with tons of ill-gotten money stepped in to help Trump. They gave to him and since then Putin has worked towards his payback. Russia stole Crimea from Ukraine on March 16, 2014 in a Putin-orchestrated fake referendum. Why would Putin break international law to take it? I’ll give you six good reasons.
1. The Crimea has estimated gas reserves of 45 trillion cubic meters.
2. Crimea’s port city of Sevastopol is the link between Russia and the Mediterranean; own it and Putin has a monopoly on fuel exports
3. Sevastopol is a deepwater port perfect for undersea drilling and exploration.
4. There are lots of other natural resources there and existing infrastructure to process them including export terminals, refineries, storage silos and energy plants.
5. Putin has all rights to any hydrocarbons in that zone.
6. ExxonMobil has been active in the Crimea and had a deal to develop Russia’s oil fields including the area of Crimea. The deal would give ExxonMobil access to land five times the size of the land it leases in the US. This was blocked by NATO sanctions when it was determined Ukraine’s March 16, 2014 referendum was staged by a foreign power; Russia.
In response to Russia’s continued occupation of Crimea despite the 2014 NATO sanctions, the Stand for Ukraine Act was introduced in congress in early 2016 to strengthen the sanctions. ExxonMobil hired lobbyists to block it and the Act failed to pass in December 2016 on the eve of Trump’s inauguration.
Let’s put aside ExxonMobil’s motives for the moment to remain focused on Putin. He has been willing to sit in the dunce corner with the 2014 sanctions while he engaged in a cyber war on the West as documented in Andrew Kramer’s 12/29/2016 NYTimes article. Three years since March 16, 2014 Putin walks like a pageant queen with a first place bouquet. The United States of America is in the palm of his hand. Trump can end sanctions; the former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson who left that position in February 2017 to become US Secretary of State can maneuver the laws in ExxonMobil’s favor.
Russia is still hungry. They continue to threaten Sweden with provocative military fly-overs, cyber attacks on public infrastructure and disinformation meant to confuse the public [Sorensen, NYTimes, 3/2/207]. They are funding extreme-right candidates in European elections and using bots, paid trolls and cyber attacks to invade democratic elections, just like they did here in 2016.
Did anyone forget the report from 17 US government agencies with evidence of Russia’s cyber attack on our 2016 elections? I agree with calls for an investigation; however the legislative branch is as tainted by the Russian attack as the executive branch. We must turn to the judicial branch. We have petitioned the SCOTUS to appoint a special master, an independent investigator who will have access to all classified documents. This investigator can examine and subpoena all necessary witnesses and documents in order to conduct a proper investigation untainted by political bias. The special master can make a recommendation to the Supreme Court and demand the federal government to fulfill its constitutional duty to protect the states from foreign invasion, an especially important duty for free and fair elections.
The number of connections between the Trump entourage and Russians with cold cash is deep and complex and must be examined. Legislation forcing Trump to release his tax returns to dispel some of American voter’s suspicions has been blocked by the Republican majority congress. This lack of transparency disappoints American voters. If Putin’s deeds took away our votes wouldn’t the government have done something by now? Alarmingly, the legislative and executive branches have not done anything.
Trump and the darkest human tendencies got what they wanted: access to the executive branch powers and the chance to make a titanic amount of money at the expense of our democracy. The cornerstone of our United States power structure is the power of the vote. Dilute that and our democracy is over. We need to do what is necessary to return the purity of the vote to our election system. An independent investigation, a new election is morally mandated and legally possible.