There is no shortage of sanctions options if Russia invades Ukraine

The Biden administration has plenty of options to make good on its pledge to achieve Russia financially if the President Vladimir Putin invasion of Ukraine, from sanctions targeting Putin associates to cutting Russia off from the financial system that sends money around the world.

NS USA and its European allies have not publicly mentioned any plans for a military response if Putin sends troops massed along the border into Ukraine, a former Soviet republic with historical and cultural ties. closely with Russia but now wants alliances with NATO and the West.

Instead, payback can be all about money.

Foreign Minister Antony Blinken This week promises financial hardship – “high-impact economic measures that we have been limited in taking in the past”. chairperson Joe Biden on Friday said the US had developed “the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very difficult for Mr. Putin”.

Over the past decade, the United States has imposed a series of sanctions against Russian entities and individuals, many of which are aimed at Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea and its support of the Russian Federation. armed separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014. The US sanctions also seek to punish Russia for election interference, malicious cyber activities and human rights abuses.

Since 2014, the West has also helped Ukraine build its military. So while Putin denies any intention of launching an attack, his army will be up against a much more capable Ukrainian army.

Sanctions currently in place against Russians include asset freezes, bans on doing business with US companies and denial of entry to the US. But when it comes to sanctions against Russia, the West has over the years considered even larger financial penalties.

That includes the so-called nuclear option: blocking Russia from the Belgium-based financial payments system SWIFT for transferring money between thousands of banks around the world.

The European Parliament this year passed a non-binding resolution calling for that step to be taken if Russia invades Ukraine.

When the US successfully pressured SWIFT to disconnect Iranian banks because of Iran’s nuclear program, said Maria Shagina, an expert on sanctions and energy politics at the Carnegie Moscow Center. The country has lost almost half of its oil export revenue and a third of its foreign trade. think tank.

Shagina wrote: “The impact on the Russian economy will be “no less devastating”. Russia depends on its oil and natural gas exports for more than a third of federal revenue and depends on SWIFT to generate the flow of its oil currency.

Russia has been working since 2014 to protect its domestic financial systems from such an impasse. SWIFT cuts will also cause indirect pain for Western economies.

John Herbst, a former US ambassador to Ukraine and career diplomat, said on Friday he believes that while “SWIFT is off the table, it will be a last resort”.

The Biden administration earlier this year further restricted Russia’s ability to borrow money by barring American financial institutions from buying Russian government bonds directly from state institutions. But the sanctions are not targeted at the secondary market, making this a possible next step.

Other possible tools and targets, Herbst noted: financial sanctions targeting people close to Putin and their families; and more sanctions on Russian banks and Russia’s vital energy sector. There is no shortage of sanctions options if Russia invades Ukraine


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