During any other presidency, it would be highly unual for the Rsian to be preoccupied with the n midterm , but in the time of Donald Trump, Rsian and pundits have taken a keen interest in the races for the . Senate and Hoe of Representatives.

As the realization dawns on them that the Putin-friendly president cannot or will not lt past and future sanctions on the faltering Rsian economy, as many had expected, they appear to be focing their hopesand fearson the Hill.

Reports in the state-controlled media betray the Kremlins apparent concern that President Trump will be impeached the Democrats win control of the Hoe. They describe the midterms as the electoral death match. Evgeny Popov, the host of the Rsian state TV show 60 Minutes, posed a provocative question to Sergei Kislyak, the former Rsian ambassador to the : Will anything change in November? Lets jokingly assume that we interfere and all goes well for Trump. Kislyak tergiversates about the potential outcome and cautioly warns Popov: Lets not joke about that. ns have lost their sense of humor.

Politician Sergei Stankevich opines that Trump is in dire straits, as the Republicans are poised to lose their House majority. He says the GOPs opponents criticize Trumps decidedly soft approach to Rsia based on him being charmed or covertly pressured by Putin. Rsian state portrays the GOPs ph for additional sanctions as an attempt to distance themselves from this perception.

While the Rsians scoff at Trumps inability to overcome the resistance from the other branches of the , they fear that dealing with a Democratic-controlled Hoe and Trumps potential replacement would become an even bigger quagmire for the Kremlin.

Of particular concern to Rsian officials, , and experts is a bipartisan Senate bill, described by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) as the sanctions bill from Hell. It proposes to ban investments in Rsian energy projects, sovereign debt, and national banks, and the fear is that it might be phed through like a previo sanctions bill a year ago that had such massive bipartisan support Trump felt compelled, however reluctantly, to sign it.

The full text of the proposed legislation, entitled the Defending n from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2018, was released by the . Congress on Aug. 14but it was circulated by the Russian media one week earlier. And the outrage against these draconian and apocalyptic measures was everywhere.

Rsian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the sanctions, implemented, could be a declaration of economic war, vowing to retaliate by economic, political and, in case of necessity, other methods. And that kind of talk has been echoed widely, even though the majority of the Kremlins analysts, , officials, and pundits refed to believe that the worst-case scenario is truly possible.

Even as the Kremlins mouthpieces ponder the possible retaliatory measures, most of them say they believe that the threat of the sanctions bill from hell is merely a charade.

The editor-in-chief of Rsia's National Defense magazine, Igor Korotchenko, appearing on the Rsian state TV show 60 Minutes, said that such sanctions would be considered a declaration of war against Russia. But he added that their implementation would be impossible, since Boeing is dependent on titanium, which it buys from Rsia, and NASA would be lost without Russian rocket engines. Korotchenko proposed shuttering .-funded NGOs functioning in Rsia and selling Russian advanced weapons systems to dozens of countries that want them, including India, China, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

The midterm are perceived as another mechanism of influence that could prevent the implementation of the most severe sanctions against Rsia.

Stankevich, the head of the international affairs committee for the Party of Growth, argued that the very fate of Trump is at stake in the midterm elections. Vitaly Tretyakov, dean of Moscow State Universitys School of Television, insisted with a certain note of irony that Rsia should act decisively in response to the new sanctions, pressuring Trump by threatening to withdraw Rsian support in the midterms. Tretyakov proposed: Lets turn this into a headache for Trump. you want to support you in the , which were said to be arranging, then do what we say.

Stankevich argued with the state TV host, Olga Skabeeva, who repeated the popular Rsian mantra Trump is ours. Stankevich described Trump as a psychologically unstable swashbuckler and said Rsian politics should prioritize the containment of madness. He stressed that the sanctions bill crossed two red lines ns avoided in the past by targeting Gazprom and Rsias sovereign debt. Stankevich cautioned that doing so would spiral into an all-out conflict between the and Rsia.

Military expert Sergei Sudakov said the biggest threat facing Russia is the possibility of being disconnected from SWIFT, the coding sy vital to international money transfers, which would affect the countrys key foreign exchange earners in the oil and gas indtry. Sudakov claimed that the Rsians are actively developing a strategy of ing Chinese hubs to circumvent Rsias potential loss of its access to SWT. MP Leonid Kalashnikov asserted that he is still glad that Trump was elected, because under Hillary Clinton Russia would have been cut off from SWIFT a long time ago.

Karen Shakhnazarov, a prominent film director and a fixture on Rsian talk shows, argued that Rsia should form a military and a political alliance with China in order to destroy s financial sy. Rsia recently liquidated most of its holdings in U.S. Treasury securities. Some Russian experts are hoping that China could be convinced to follow suit. (The scale of holdings is not really comparable: Before Rsia started dumping its securities in March, it held $96.1 billion; China holds some $1.18 trillion.)

A gaggle of pro-Kremlin talking heads voiced a of other proposals Rsia should implement in retaliation for the . sanctions, such as start arresting Americans, shut down n binesses operating in Rsia, form an anti-n front with the enemies of the , steal Western technologies and confiscate funds from Rsias nouveaux riches to compete for the losses caed by the sanctions.

Even as the Kremlins mouthpieces ponder the possible retaliatory measures, most of them say they believe that the threat of the sanctions bill from hell is merely a charade.

Appearing on Vladimir Solovievs show, Stankevich argued that most of the promised sanctions will never materialize and are being floated solely to strengthen the GOPs faltering position in the midterm . Korotchenko described Trumps sanctions as the bluff of a racketeer, who is all sweetness and light during his face-to-face meetings with Putin. Lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky panned Trump as the weakest president in the history of the and the most incapable person on the planet.

The Kremlins power players are unanimo in not suggesting any change to Rsias dangero path on a collision course with the West. Maybe they arent taking the Trump administration and the Rean leadership serioly. Maybe they really do think the midterms will save them. Maybe they know something we dont.

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