United States strengthens its arsenal of sanctions against Russia

United States strengthens its arsenal of sanctions against Russia


Without weapons and ammunition, sanctions are the remaining option. In response to Congress stalling a new round of military assistance to Ukraine, the White House is ramping up its use of a strategy against Russia that has been widely applied before but has demonstrated its limits. In a statement issued on Friday, February 23, the symbolic date marking the beginning of the Russian invasion two years ago, US President Joe Biden announced more than 500 new sanctions against Russian individuals and entities. In total, since 2022, the Treasury and State Department lists have grown to 4,000 names.

Following weeks of deliberation, the scope of these sanctions was expanded following the detention of opposition figure Alexei Navalny on February 16. They include three prison officials. Their main aim is to reduce Russia’s energy revenues and combat mechanisms for evading the sanctions already adopted. “If Putin does not pay the price for his death and destruction, he will keep going,” Biden predicted, adding “and the costs to the United States – along with our NATO Allies and partners in Europe and around the world – will rise. “

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Targets include Russia’s alternative payment system, MIR, which facilitates financial transactions, the Mechel metallurgical group and JSC SUEK, which specializes in railroad logistics. The list also includes 26 entities and individuals in 11 countries, among them China, Serbia and the United Arab Emirates, who have contributed to circumventing sanctions.

The measures are also aimed at disrupting the revitalization of Russia’s military-industrial complex, which benefits in particular from cooperation with Iran and China. The US is specifically targeting more than 20 entities specializing in 3D printing, which is in great demand for suicide drones and aviation parts.

Moscow has managed to adapt

For the past two years, the United States has been working closely with the European Union and its G7 partners to limit the Russian state’s income from the sale of its energy resources by capping the price of an oil barrel at $60 by the end of 2022 and by imposing trade restrictions. They aimed to block imports of equipment and semiconductors and substitute industrial parts for the defense sector. However, the sanctions were not comprehensive enough, allowing Moscow to adjust and circumvent them.

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Speaking at the CSIS think tank in Washington on Thursday, Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland acknowledged the weaknesses in the network of sanctions imposed on Russia. “We should all be horrified that [Putin] is now getting drones made for him not only in Iran, but by Iranians in Russia; that he’s cut some deal with Kim [Jong-un] in [North Korea]and who knows what kind of technology Russia is trading to get 155 [millimeter] ammunition that it’s using on the battlefield in Avdiivka, right? So this is massively destabilizing.”

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