Democrat President Joe Biden’s administration has reportedly taken the toughest sanctions that it could enact against Russia “off the table” if Russia were to invade Ukraine.
The report comes as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley warned on Friday that a Russian invasion into Ukraine would yield “horrific” results as the administration believes that Russia has amassed approximately 100,000 soldiers near the Ukrainian border.
“While final decisions haven’t been made, the officials said, the potential targets include several of Russia’s largest government-owned banks, such as VTB Bank, the banning of all trade in new issues of Russian sovereign debt and the application of export controls across key sectors such as advanced microelectronics,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “Off the table, for now, are sanctions on oil and natural-gas exports or disconnecting Russia from SWIFT, the basic infrastructure that facilitates financial transactions between banks across the world, the U.S. officials said, but that could change depending on Russian actions.”
The report said that Russia is better prepared to deal with U.S. sanctions now than it was in 2014 as it now has “deeper foreign-currency reserves, less reliance on foreign debt, faster economic growth and rising prices for oil—the country’s primary revenue source.”
The report was met with backlash online by those who said that the administration was going soft on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Wow. Biden admin takes the toughest sanctions off the table: oil and natural gas exports, disconnecting Russia from SWIFT, and Putin/inner circle. What are we doing? This will not deter Moscow,” MSNBC contributor Noah Rothman wrote. “If you’re in the Kremlin surveying the confusion within the admin and obvious disunity of purpose within the Atlantic Alliance, what would you be thinking?”
Nile Gardiner, former aide to Margaret Thatcher, responded: “Unbelievable. The Biden administration bowing to Moscow, and the demands of the appeasers in Berlin.”
Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned this week that a conflict between Russia and Ukraine would yield “significant” casualties and that conflict was not “inevitable.”
“Given the type of forces that are arrayed … if that was unleashed on Ukraine, it would be significant, very significant, and it would result in a significant amount of casualties,” Milley said at a Pentagon press briefing. “You can imagine what that might look like in dense urban areas, along roads, and so on and so forth. It would be horrific. It would be terrible. And it’s not necessary. And we think a diplomatic outcome is the way to go here.”
“There’s no reason that this situation has to devolve into conflict,” Austin said. “He can choose to de-escalate. He can order his troops away. He can choose dialogue and diplomacy.”
A senior Ukrainian official told CNN yesterday that a phone call this week between Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “did not go well” as Ukraine has accused the U.S. of hyping the threat level that Russia poses.