The United States imposes new sanctions on Russia. US President Joe Biden announced the package as “the down payment,” warning that more would follow if Russia went ahead with its invasion of Ukraine. “The actions are targeting, among other things, two Russian banks, Russian merchants and the Russian elite,” says BNR’s America correspondent Jan Postma.
In addition, US banks will be banned from trading in Russian government bonds in the future in order to ensure that the country does not have access to Western capital markets. According to Postma, Biden also wants to harm the oligarch’s circle around Putin with sanctions. He says Biden has more penalties in the bag. But in a situation like this, you also want to have the means to make threats. This is why Biden – like the EU – is not going forward with full force. There are still all kinds of options for supplementing and tightening penalties. For example, Postma believes that the isolation of Russia from the international payment system SWIFT could cause major problems for Russia. “But this measure will remain shelved for some time.”
Biden said the current sanctions could hurt Americans economically. They are already having a hard time with inflation and will feel these penalties at pump prices. So Biden appeals to the idealistic side of Americans. However, according to Postma, Biden has promised to work with oil producers to ensure energy prices remain within limits. “It’s a risk for Biden with the congressional elections later this year. Postma says he, of course, thinks about that when he makes his choices in the conflict with Russia.
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Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken canceled his meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister on Thursday. This meeting will be in preparation for a possible meeting between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. But that is now gone, because that will only continue if Russia does not invade Ukraine. Postma explains that the United States does not want to reward the Russians with such confrontations. This says something about diplomatic options. “Diplomacy is still a means to the end, but that door will be closed,” Biden said.
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