Biden's first round sanctions has prompted calls for more aggressive measures

Washington -Sanctions were rolled out this week by the Biden administration. They are meant to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from further aggression against Ukraine. Experts say that they do not include harsher penalties, but instead allow for more severe measures.

Biden's first round sanctions has prompted calls for more aggressive measures

The U.S. and its allies in the West have made it clear that the sanctions they have imposed so far are an initial response to Russian President Vladimir Putin recognizing two regions within eastern Ukraine as independent, and ordering the "peacekeeping forces to the breakaway states. However, if Putin continues to escalate, the Western leaders have stressed that they are ready to impose even more severe sanctions on Russia.

Chris Miller, assistant professor at Tufts University's Fletcher School, said that the U.S. is currently on rung 3 of the 10 on the sanctions escalation ladder. He also co-directs the Russia and Eurasia Program.



 

Miller stated that the U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia so far are not comparable to those imposed on Iran.

Trump's predecessor, Mr. Biden, pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement and imposed new sanctions to try to get Iran to renegotiate. The Congressional Research Service stated that Iran's economy fell into recession due to its oil sales declining and was again cut off from the international financial systems.

Mr. Biden announced economic sanctions against Moscow on Tuesday. They target two Russian banks, VEB, and Promsvyazbank. Five Russian oligarchs have ties to Putin and the Kremlin. Additional restrictions were also placed on Russia's sovereign loans by the U.S. in an attempt to isolate Russia from Western financing. The president declared on Wednesday that his administration would sanction Nord Stream 2 AG and its corporate officers.

In a statement, Mr. Biden stated that President Putin had given the world an overwhelming incentive to shift away from Russian gas and other forms of energy.

Along with economic measures from the United Kingdom and the European Union, the first set of sanctions against the U.S. was rolled out. These also targeted Russian banks as well as oligarchs. The EU approved Tuesday a sanctions package that also targeted 351 Russian Duma members who voted to recognize Donetsk and Luhansk as independent. Germany, however, took steps to halt certification for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. This will limit Russia's future access the European energy markets.

Miller stated that unity among the U.S., its allies and Russia in its response to Russia was a "good" thing but not an indicator of efficacy.

"Will this stop Russia from doing more?" He spoke out about the sanctions. "I hope that the answer to this question is yes, but I am afraid that it is not." To think of sanctions as deterrents, one must ask yourself what price the Kremlin would be willing to pay in order to reach its goal.

Miller said that sanctions that impose costs of several hundred billion dollars on Putin are "a reasonable price to pay" if the policy goal is Ukraine control.

According to a European official, CBS News' chief foreign correspondent Margaret Brennan said that the sanctions against Russia have been "symbolically significant" because they demonstrate unity between the U.S. government and the EU. They also showed that the EU acted in a coordinated manner. However, the practical impact is very limited since Russia doesn't need to borrow money from Western countries.

The second European official representing a U.S.-allied nation essentially agreed with Brennan, telling Brennan that sovereign debt sanctions were important but limited in effect because Russia is rich. They described the sanctions as moderate.

Both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill urged the White House for more severe sanctions against Russia.

GOP Senator Ben Sasse, Nebraska, said that the White House's opening salvo is too little and too late. He described the sanctions as "incremental".

He stated that the sanctions should have been in place before Putin invaded Ukraine. To make sure that they feel real pain, secondly, economic sanctions must be more aggressively targeted at Putin's oligarchs. We shouldn't think that today's incremental sanctions will stop Putin from trying to establish a puppet government at Kyiv.

New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who is the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee applauded President Trump's decision to sanction the company that built the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and urged the Biden administration "continue imposing severe consequences" on Russia.

Menendez tweeted, "Putin just lost an important tool of Russian malign influence on Europe." "The world doesn't believe Putin's propaganda and we stand united against the attack on Ukraine."

Although the White House has not revealed specific details about the next round of economic measures that will be taken by the U.S., Western allies, Jen Paski, White House press secretary, told reporters Tuesday that there are "a variety of options" that could have a devastating effect on Russia's economy.

She said that there are two options: Russia being removed from the SWIFT network (a network used by financial institutions and banks to process international transactions) and export restrictions.

Daleep Singh (deputy national security advisor) also spoke Tuesday to say that no Russian financial institution is "safe" in the event of an invasion.

He said that he was ready to push a button to act on two of Russia's largest financial institutions. They collectively have almost $750 billion worth of assets or more than half the total in the Russian bank system.

Miller pointed out that no Russian bank has been isolated from the international financial systems of any "meaningful size", though placing Russian financial institutions on Treasury Department's " Specially Designed Nationals" list would cause significant economic harm. Entities worldwide would cease doing business with them.

Export restrictions, especially on semiconductor technology, could also prove to be powerful tools. They would make it difficult for Russia not to buy manufactured goods abroad and put restrictions on Russian energy exports.

Miller stated, "The truth is that we are in a serious escalating crises with Russia." He also said, "so it's possible for things that seem impossible today to be plausible in a few months."

In an email, Michael O'Hanlon (director of research in foreign policies at Brookings Institution) stated that he too supports "much more severe energy sanctions" for Russia in case it starts a war against Ukraine. He said that the new sanctions from Biden will "bite."


 

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