According to The Wall Street Journal, Exxon Mobil Corp. just “applied to the Treasury Department for a waiver from U.S. sanctions on Russia in a bid to resume its joint venture with state oil giant PAO Rosneft.”
Drilling is currently prohibited in Russia’s portion of the Black Sea because of sanctions that were levied during the Obama era in retaliation for Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.
The joint drilling venture – worth as much as $500 billion – was initiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin and then-Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson. In exchange for the deal, Putin gave Tillerson Russia’s Order of Friendship.
Tillerson, now Trump’s Secretary of State, faced intense scrutiny leading up to his confirmation for fears that he would be unable to remain impartial with matters relating to Russia.
Although Exxon Mobil applied to the Justice Department for the waiver, the State Department, to which Tillerson is a party, has a say in which sanctions waivers are issued. Since becoming Secretary of State, Tillerson has pledged to recuse himself from matters relating to Exxon Mobil. However, while he stayed out of deliberations for the Keystone XL pipeline, the project faced little opposition and was granted approval by the Trump administration.
Should the United States government decide to grant the waiver to Exxon Mobil, there will be little doubt that they value Putin’s business interests over the integrity of sanctions that were issued in response to Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine. It will also eliminate any and all doubt that Tillerson’s presence in the State Department was ever anything other than a ruse to help his former company enrich itself.
With more evidence emerging by the day of Trump’s collusion with Russia to tip the Presidential election in his favor, it should come as no surprise that the Trump administration is now fulfilling its end of the deal by rewarding the Kremlin.
Of course, this is just another day in Trump’s swamp.