Not Enough To Deter Continued Aggression
Washington, D.C., February 25, 2022
Tags: Foreign Affairs , Energy , Ukraine
Everyone needs to understand that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is more than just a regional crisis. Instead, this is a major worldwide problem.
We’ve got a tyrannical dictator who appears to have no qualms invading a neighboring country, and nobody knows how far he’s willing to go. Meanwhile, other potentially hostile nations are watching this closely, trying to figure out what they might be able to get away with. This includes Iran with their ambitions to obtain nuclear weapons, and China, which is salivating over Taiwan.
So when it comes to U.S. sanctions on Russia for this outrageous invasion, I argue they should have been imposed long ago, proactively, while Vladimir Putin was amassing troops along Russia’s border with Ukraine.
However, that’s not what President Biden wanted to do. Instead, he opted to wait until after Putin actually invaded Ukraine before taking any action. In making that decision, he did at least promise crippling economic sanctions on Russia once they invaded Ukraine.
Well, now’s the time for Mr. Biden to make good on that promise. Unfortunately, he may be falling short. But first, here’s what’s good:
Two rounds of sanctions this week do, in fact, target a handful of important items, including several of Russia’s largest financial institutions, a handful of filthy-rich Russian elites and their families, and Russia’s ability to raise money by selling its debt. This week’s sanctions also target the sale of various technologies to Russia, including certain semiconductors, computer technology, telecommunications equipment, and other items. All of that is warranted and appropriate.
But here’s the problem…
These sanctions, collectively, are not likely to deter the continued aggression by Putin. Not even close.
Why are we not going after Putin’s own assets around the world? I realize those can be hard to accurately track down, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
More importantly, Russia’s economy is largely driven by energy exports. WHY ON EARTH are we not targeting that sector of their economy? While explaining Biden’s thought process on Thursday, the U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics told us these sanctions are “not designed to disrupt – in any way – the current flow of energy from Russia to the world.”
WHY NOT ?!!
Obviously sanctioning Russia’s export of energy would have side effects, not the least of which would be higher energy prices around the world. But if you want meaningful sanctions that really put economic pressure on Russia to behave, then we need to be willing to target their largest industries.
For whatever reason, President Biden appears unwilling to take that step. And time is running out for Ukraine.