When Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea, Stephen Harper and John Baird belched indignation. Michael Harris writes:
Harper and his foreign minister immediately hopped on Kyiv-bound planes for the 2015 photo-ops: Canada standing up for Ukraine. Baird donned a scarf in the national colours of that troubled country. Then the government sent jets, with or without armaments, to show we’re ready to rumble for Ukrainian democracy. (At home, the government was busy ramming the abusive Fair Elections Act through Parliament.)
Harper insisted it was time for tough sanctions against Putin and his allies. But, last week, Reuters reported that two of Putin's buddies -- who the United States has targeted for sanctions -- have specifically been excluded from the Canadian sanctions regime. It seems that Sergey Chemozov and Igor Sechin have significant business interests in Canada:
Chemezov runs Rostec, Russia’s state-industrial and defence giant, and Sechin is Putin’s pal at the state oil behemoth Rosneft.
Rostec has a $3.4 billion deal brewing with Bombardier and Rosneft has a huge investment in the Canadian oilpatch.
We're talking big money:
In the spring of 2012, Rosneft and ExxonMobil signed a fifteen-year “strategic cooperation agreement” to jointly explore for oil and gas. As part of that agreement, the Russian oil giant took an equity position in major oil developments in both the U.S. and Canada.
The U.S. investment was done through an “independent, indirect subsidiary of Rosneft” called Neftegaz Holding America, which is registered in Delaware. The company took a 30 per cent equity in ExxonMobil’s share in the La Escalera Ranch project in West Texas.
Rosneft used another “independent subsidiary”, RN Cardium Oil Inc., to acquire 30 per cent of ExxonMobil’s stake in the Harmattan acreage in the Cardium formation of the Western Canada Basin, in Alberta. Like the Chinese, and with the blessing of the Harper government, the Russians now hold a serious stake in Canada’s unconventional oilpatch. What may be more important than the oil venture is Russia acquiring the technology to develop unconventional oil reserves at home.
The Obama administration has had no qualms about making life more difficult for these two men. But not so Stephen Harper. When Harper does international relations, he starts from the principle that oligarchs must hang together -- or they will hang separately.