US sanctions projects

Written by The Frontier Post

Dmitry Belyaev

Tensions between Moscow and Western countries over Ukraine increase the likelihood of new anti-Russian sanctions. They are already being actively trained both in Washington and in Brussels. So far, we are talking only about hypothetical measures, but some of them will most likely be in service with the opponents of the Russian Federation.
European measures
On Monday, the European Union announced its readiness to apply “massive” restrictions. At the same time, following the meeting of 27 foreign ministers of the community, the bloc did not present any specific measures.
Before the start of the meeting, the head of the Danish Foreign Ministry said that these were “unpr-ecedented” restrictions, and his colleague from Lithu-ania noted that the sanctions should be “unbearable.” The final statement of the EU Council said that any “further Russian military aggression” against Ukraine would have significant consequences and a high cost.
“This includes a wide range of sectoral and individual restrictive measures that will be taken in coordination with our partners. The EU is accelerating pre-paratory work in this direction,” the council notes.
Later that evening, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported that Bulgaria, Denmark, Lithuania, Romania are demanding from the EU to expand sanctions against Russia imposed in connection with the reunification with Crimea. They allegedly want to include five more individuals or organizations on the EU sanctions list, but there are no details until an official decision is made. A separate sanctions bill was prepared in the UK. However, it has not yet been presented to the public.
As for the EU’s unified response, Der Spiegel writes that a decision on a possible new package of sanctions against Russia in the event of a conflict with Ukraine has not yet been made. The US is coordinating its measures with Europe and is trying to minimize its own losses.
US sanctions projects
According to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, the United States believes that anti-Russian measures should be introduced only in the event of aggressive actions against Ukraine, but not before they begin. As pointed out in Washington, despite the fact that the details of the sanctions are still being discussed with the Europeans, in general, anti-Russian measures are “already ready.” Back on January 12, a group of Democrats led by Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Robert Menendez introduced their bill to the Senate, titled the Ukraine Sovereignty Protection Act of 2022, which proposes:
a. impose sanctions on Russian state-owned banks and financial institutions, including Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank and the Rus-sian Direct Investment Fund;
b. limit the participation of foreign companies in Russian oil projects;
c. ban investment in new issues of Russian government debt;
d. consider disconnecting Russia from the SWIFT system ;
e. impose personal sanctions against President Vladimir Putin, as well as military and government officials, including the Prime Minister, the heads of the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Defense, the Chief of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces and other representatives of the military leadership;
f. potentially impose sanctions against Nord Stream 2.
Similar measures, with some reservations, are bei-ng proposed in the Rep-ublican camp. Republican Senator Mark Rubio aut-hored the Deterrence of A-uthoritarian Warfare Act 2022, in which he calls for expanding the circle of countries boycotting Nord Stream 2. Another package (“Putin’s Responsibility La-w”) appeared on January 20 at the initiative of Repub-lican Congressman Jim Ba-nks, co-authored with his fellow party members. In it, they propose to recognize Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, and militias in the Donbass as terrorists.
Many points in all these projects repeat each other – this is a disconnection from SWIFT, a ban on operations with Russian public debt, personal sanctions against Russian high-ranking officials and businessmen, as well as personally Vladimir Putin. By the way, the Kremlin called this measure prohibitive and compared it with breaking off relations.
At the same time, Emily Horn, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said earlier that the US administration supports the Democrats’ initiative. That is the Menendez project.
What are the new sanctions
The United States promises that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “will be a disaster” for Moscow (Russian authorities reject such plans – TASS note). At the same time, President Biden indicates that the scale of potential sanctions from Washington and allies will depend on specific Russian actions.
We are talking about the possible imposition of sanctions related to dollar transactions, which, according to Biden, will have a “negative impact on the economies of Europe” but “a devastating impact on Russia.”
Last year, the White H-ouse already banned US f-inancial institutions from b-uying Russian government bonds directly from government agencies. But the sanctions did not affect the secondary market, leaving it as a possible next step.
In addition, according to the newspaper Bild, in mid-January, the head of the CIA, William Burns, proposed sanctions to the allies that could affect the export of raw materials and weapons from Russia. In addition, it was proposed to significantly reduce the number of personnel of Russian diplomatic missions in Western countries.
Semiconductor supply ban
The US is also talking about a possible limitation of the supply of semiconductors to Russia, which will deal a blow to the high-tech sectors of the Russian economy. These components are present in almost all modern electronic devices. According to media reports, the White House has already warned chipmakers to be prepared for such a scenario. In addition to the United States, this market is dominated by Taiwan, South Korea, Europe and Japan, with whom Washington is allegedly also consulting on possible joint restrictions.
The ban on the export of American high-tech products to Russia can range from avionics and tools to smartphones, game consoles and TVs. According to officials cited by The Washington Post, these measures could deprive Russians of some models of smartphones, tablets and game consoles.
In addition, the restrictions could affect critical sectors of Russian industry, including the defense and civil aviation sectors, hurting Russia’s “high-tech ambitions.” The administration has not yet decided whether to impose export restrictions on strategic sectors or extend them to everyday devices.
Compromises with Germany
So far, the US and the EU continue to agree on measures. Despite the West’s statements about its readiness to act as a united front of sanctions if necessary, there are reports in the press that Germany is concerned about the consequences of certain measures.
Thus, according to a report in Bloomberg, the German government allegedly insists that the Russian energy sector is not subject to possible financial restrictions. The German authorities fear that, without such an exception, energy supplies to Europe will be under threat, and a ban on transactions with Russian banks will cause serious damage to EU financial institutions.
“The same justification applies to the disconnection of Russian banks from the SWIFT system,” the agen-cy cites an excerpt from the document. According to various experts, the US and Germany will also suffer from this measure, as their credit institutions are frequent users of the system in Russian banks.
As early as January 17, the German newspaper Ha-ndelsblatt, citing sources in the German government, wrote that the US and EU authorities were allegedly no longer considering disconnecting Russia from SWIFT. However, officials say no action is ruled out.
Sanctions against Nord Stream 2, which has been built and is being negotiated, remain another sensitive issue. Berlin assured the United States that in the event of an invasion of Ukraine, Russian gas would not go through the gas pipeline. However, the leadership of the Social Democratic Party of Germany and the office of the chancellor, according to Bloomberg, are not ready to abandon the gas pipeline in principle, which causes irritation in Washington. In addition, Berlin continues to oppose the supply of weapons to Ukraine.
“Each of the countries has its own opinion and priorities, but I don’t think there were any particular frictions with Berlin on this issue,” said Karen Donfried, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. According to her, Berlin’s views on what is happening on the Russian-Ukrainian border are no different from the position of the European allies and the United States.
What the Kremlin Says About Sanctions
Earlier, the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov, in an interview with CNN, said that the sanctions proposed in the United States against the Russian leadership could lead to the termination of relations between the two countries.
Prior to that, he also noted that Moscow is extremely negative about the projects of various restrictions. “Especially against the backdrop of an ongoing series of negotiations, albeit unsuccessful ones, but negotiations,” he stressed. That is, the diplomatic line is still a priority.
According to the presidential representative, the sanctions rhetoric does not contribute to the further search for mutually beneficial solutions and the formation of a constructive atmosphere. According to Peskov, in matters of possible sanctions, it is also better to focus not on media speculation, but on official statements by European and American officials.

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