Biden Threatens Russia Sanctions – Here’s the Damage They’d Do – Russia’s continued aggression towards Ukraine prompted the United States to order family members of its Kyiv embassy workers to return home in December. With roughly 127,000 Russian troops currently stationed on the border, a recent hack of Ukrainian government websites, and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s repeated demand for “reassurances” from NATO forces, all signs point to an imminent encroachment of Russian forces into Ukrainian territory.
In an effort to avoid a situation like the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Western nations including the United States have threatened a series of sanctions to prevent Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion.
U.S. and U.K. Threaten Threatens Sanctions
On Tuesday, the United States warned Moscow of severe sanctions if its military goes ahead with a rumored invasion of Ukraine. Most sanctions would be economic but some would also personally target Russian President Vladimir Putin. The White House confirmed that an invasion “remains imminent” but also warned that there would be “enormous consequences” that could “change the world.”
It comes after Washington confirmed that 8,500 American troops would be placed on alert for possible deployment to support NATO forces in Europe. Russian forces in the Crimea region and on the border of Ukraine recently conducted drills with as many as 6,000 soldiers.
British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab told Sky News over the weekend that there would be “very serious consequences” if Russia were to invade Ukraine and “install a puppet regime.” The British Foreign Ministry also claimed to have information that the Russian government was tapping Ukrainian legislator Yevhen Murayev as a possible candidate to head up a puppet regime in the country. Murayev has denied the claims.
Proposed Sanctions So Far
The Biden administration is still in negotiations with allies to determine the exact nature of possible economic sanctions against Russia. So far, the Biden administration has proposed using the foreign direct product rule to control exports of microelectronics to Russia that are designed with American software or technology.
These export controls would specifically target Russia’s military, civilian aviation, and artificial intelligence sectors. The rule was previously used by the Trump administration against Chinese telecom giant Huawei.
Another proposed sanction would see Russia blocked from using the SWIFT financial system, blocking the country’s ability to send and receive foreign currency. SWIFT is a technology that securely allows financial institutions to communicate and facilitates global transactions.
The United States could also restrict Russia’s access to US dollars, which is the most commonly used currency for international transactions.
Will Biden’s Russia Sanctions Work?
A 2021 report from the Atlantic Council described how Western sanctions have not yet stopped the Kremlin from ending its aggression towards Ukraine, but how they have hurt the Russian economy. Since 2014, the Russian economy grew by 0.3% per year compared to the global average of 2.3% per year.
It’s a sign that sanctions can have an impact, but multiple factors are already working against the Biden administration and European allies.
American businesses are piling pressure on President Biden to seriously reconsider his plans. A trade group representing General Electric, Chevron, and a host of other major corporations have urged the White House and Congress to allow companies to fulfill their commitments and implement exemptions. Energy companies are also pushing American lawmakers to limit the scope and length of any possible sanctions.
Sanctions could potentially prevent an invasion, but a combination of the impact on American businesses and the fact that the Russian Federation is the largest exporter of oil, hard coal, and natural gas to the European Union means they could also backfire. Russia was already accused in 2021 of restricting gas supplies to Europe on purpose, and some experts already claim that Europe is a “hostage” to Russia over energy.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and report on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.