U.S. Politics

Did Putin help elect Trump to restore $500 billion Exxon oil deal killed by sanctions

Russia’s $500 billion oil deal with Exxon was killed by U.S. sanctions. No doubt coincidentally, drilling In the Russian Arctic would be easier if warming-driven sea ice melt continued. CREDIT: Wall Street Journal, 9/11/2014.

THINK PROGRESS

Follow the money: Will Trump repay Putin by ending Russian sanctions and killing the Paris climate deal?

The “Russian hack news … is delegitimizing,” explained former George W. Bush speech writer David Frum in a recent article. The conservative Frum was famous for authoring Bush’s controversial “axis of evil” speech about the danger posed by Iran, Iraq, and North Korea.

But it appears our democracy and our children have a new axis to worry about: Putin, Trump, and ExxonMobil, whose CEO Rex Tillerson — an extreme Russophile and long-time director of a US-Russian oil company — is Trump’s puzzling choice for Secretary of State.

I say “puzzling” because the long-serving Exxon employee (from age 23!) has no qualifications to be secretary of state — other than a history negotiating major oil deals with countries like Putin’s Russia, which in any sane world would actually disqualify him or at least force a recusal from all State Department dealings with Russia.

But that puzzle disappears if we follow the famous dictum from the Watergate era for uncovering a tangled web of covert campaign acts: “Follow the money.” And perhaps another puzzle is also solved: Why did Putin take such a “fearful risk,” as Frum put it, to “mount a clandestine espionage and disinformation campaign on behalf” of Trump and against Clinton, “when Putin had every reason to expect that he probably would end up facing a President Clinton,” and a tremendous backlash.

You can certainly make a plausible case, as U.S. intelligence agencies do in their bombshell new report, that Putin had plenty of motivation to interfere. He wanted to undermine the legitimacy of U.S. elections and a Clinton Presidency, he blamed Secretary Clinton for “inciting mass protests against his regime,” and he was angry with the U.S. for the Panama Papers leaks. Those leaks showed a $2 billion trail of offshore accounts and deals that traced back to Putin and his cabal of kleptocrats, who, among other things, were getting rich “trading shares in Rosneft,” Russia’s state-owned (i.e. Putin run) oil monopoly.

But a half trillion dollars to line their pockets and prop up the Russian economy offers a much more tangible motivation for team Putin to get Trump elected. And it was Tillerson who had made the $500 billion oil deal with Putin that got blocked by sanctions.

Blocking the deal did not just “put Exxon at risk,” as the Wall Street Journal reported in 2014. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow explained last month the biggest oil deal in history was “expected to change the historical trajectory of Russia.”

Joe Romm

5 thoughts on “Did Putin help elect Trump to restore $500 billion Exxon oil deal killed by sanctions

  1. I don’t think Putin was risking anything by rigging the election against Clinton: short of an actual war which both countries would prefer to avoid, there’s really nothing much the US can do against Russia: there are already sanctions against Russia (and the UN can’t level any sanctions because Russia can veto them), we do military training exercises around their borders all the time. We aren’t even going to allow Ukraine into NATO while it’s embroiled in the conflict with Russia.
    And any critical statements and “show of strength” are just being used by Putin to consolidate his power.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “…there’s really nothing much the US can do against Russia: there are already sanctions against Russia…” No, but there IS something we can do about TRUMP…Impeach!

      Like

  2. Dear Sheila, You and I have been worried about DT and his Russian connections.

    Here is some other information that I have blogged on:

    On 12/18/16, The Guardian writers Luke Harding and Hannes Munzinger penned the following article, ” Leak reveals Rex Tillerson was director of Bahamas-based US-Russian oil firm:”

    “Rex Tillerson, the businessman nominated by Donald Trump to be the next US secretary of state, was the long-time director of a US-Russian oil firm based in the tax haven of the Bahamas, leaked documents show.”

    “Tillerson – the chief executive of ExxonMobil – became a director of the oil company’s Russian subsidiary, Exxon Neftegas, in 1998. His name – RW Tillerson – appears next to other officers who are based at Houston, Texas; Moscow; and Sakhalin, in Russia’s far east.”

    “The leaked 2001 document comes from the corporate registry in the Bahamas. It was one of 1.3m files given to the Germany newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung by an anonymous source. The registry is public but details of individual directors are typically incomplete or missing entirely.”
    Rex Tillerson ended this situation in 2006 when he became CEO of Exxon.

    “Tillerson’s award (friendship award by Russia) followed a 2011 deal between ExxonMobil and Rosneft to explore the Kara Sea, in Russia’s Arctic.”(est. value up to $500 billion dollars)

    “It was put on hold in 2014 after the Obama administration imposed wide-ranging sanctions against Russia. The sanctions were punishment for Putin’s Crimea annexation that spring and Russia’s undercover invasion of eastern Ukraine.”

    “The ban covers the US sharing of sophisticated offshore and shale oil technology. Exxon was supposed to halt its drilling with Rosneft. The firm successfully pleaded with the US Treasury department to delay the ban by a few weeks, with the Kremlin threatening to seize its rig. In this brief window Exxon discovered a major Arctic field with some 750m barrels of new oil.”

    Liked by 1 person

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