Sochi’s Frozen Relationship

By Michael Jones (michael.jones@tsiglobalconsulting.com)

Despite the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia already being in full swing, not all the attention is on the athletes competing for the gold.  Controversies such as Russia’s stance on gay rights, Sochi’s huge mishandled budged, and security concerns related to the Ukraine and terrorist groups in Chechnya and Dagestan have arisen in the pas few months and threaten to derail the games.  Of particular importance is the last: it is evident that Russia is especially concerned about the security of the Olympics, as any perceived weaknesses would embarrass Prime Minster Vladimir Putin at at time when he is trying to show Russia’s strength on a global stage.  This concern for preventing terrorism has led to Russia reaching out to an unlikely partner for the games.

Of  course, it is common knowledge that the U.S. and Russia have not had the best history together.  Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, relations between the two global powers have been frigid.  However, no other country has had quite as much experience as the U.S. when it comes to combating terrorism, and the U.S. possesses some of the best anti-terrorism technology in the world: things that Russia greatly needs for Sochi.  In the interest of a successful Olympics, both countries have tried to work together to supplement Russia’s existing security with U.S. technology and training.

However, this security exchange has not gone as smoothly as either side would have liked.  One of the primary reasons for this difficulty is the U.S.’s reluctance to ship its military technology without complete Russian transparency.  Since the Russian government has been quiet about its own anti-terrorism methods, the U.S. is worried that any technology that is sent over to Russia could wind up being used against it if it were to end up in terrorist hands.  Due to this uncertainty, no deal has been completed.  However, while Sochi has had to proceed despite this insecurity, the possibility of a future deal remains.

The case of Sochi is an important parallel for those in the exporting business.  The U.S. has always had very strict export controls on military  items, or items that could have a military application and attempting to ship without complete transparency could spell and end to your operations.  Always keep in mind who your end user is, and be sure to always screen your clients before you ship.  For more information on shipping items that may be export controlled by the U.S. government, please contact TSI Global Consulting at 210-757-0618 for a consultation.

 

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