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“Do the right thing”: how the United States, allies united to punish Putin

Washington (AP) — Just a few days before Russia invades Ukraine On February 24, President Joe Biden quietly sent the team to the European Union headquarters in Belgium.

These were not spy chiefs or generals, but experts who read fine print and track the flow of money, computer chips, and other commodities around the world. Their mission: Gives the greatest pain to Russian President Vladimir Putin. It makes it difficult, if not impossible, to fund a long-term war in Ukraine and denies access to the technologies at the core of modern warfare.

In February, fierce meetings were held in Brussels, Paris, London and Berlin, often running as long as six hours at a time as allies sought to elaborate on the details of the historic economic blockade.According to officials from the Biden administration, some of the exports the U.S. wants to ban would essentially tell their own companies to give up billions of dollars in annual income from Russia. Was reluctant by.

When there was a deadlock, a US negotiator called Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.

“Now you can say’no’, but when the body bag comes out of Ukraine, you don’t want to be on holdout,” Lymond told his allies’ counterparts.

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Everyone signed on — and before the invasion.

Lymond said it was the threat of Putin’s imminent attack on Ukraine that ultimately pushed the deal.

“We all quickly gained the religion that it was time to unite and stick. If we cause enough pain and isolate Putin, the war will end,” she says. I did.

The wealthiest countries in the world other than China face President Putin directly, imposing sanctions whose strengths cross Russia’s vulnerabilities. Russia depends on the United States, EU, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Due to cutting-edge technology and investment, the Allies have decided to cut off Moscow.

This is a strategic play designed to put Putin in a downward spiral, as foreign investors withdraw funds in response to atrocities. It’s also a remarkable unity show that could be tested in the coming weeks due to the allies’ own reliance on fossil fuels. ..

A group of economists estimated that EU countries remitted more than € 13.3 billion on Thursday Since the beginning of the war, it has funded Russia ($ 14.7 billion) for oil, natural gas and coal, basically Putin’s war machinery.

Allied talks leading up to the war were important, but the EU wasn’t just waiting for US instructions to act. The members of the block had been in talks for months.

An EU diplomat discussed internal talks on condition of anonymity and, in an interview dating back to January, outlined potential penalties, including export bans, in the EU in the Donbus region of Ukraine in 2014.

But this time, the United States and the EU have responded to Russia’s invasion with a new set of policies. Impairing Putin’s ability to fight by denying access to semiconductors, computers, telecommunications equipment, lasers, and sensors that are essential to war supplies.

This is a supply chain squeeze that causes Russia to attack existing planes, tanks and other equipment for spare parts, essentially eroding military and economic power. After the pandemic, the same US and EU officials are tackling their own supply chain challenges. Amplify Russia’s problems through trade restriction.

U.S. officials have pointed out the closure of Russia’s Lada car plant and more than 300 companies that have suspended transactions with Russia as early signs of success. These companies say they have shut down not only Starbucks, but also chip makers such as Infineon in Germany. All direct and indirect deliveries to Russia, as well as technical support.

Within days of the invasion, the Allies blocked the foreign assets of the Central Bank of RussiaTwo senior Biden administration officials, who did not have the authority to publicly discuss the strategy and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the option was not initially offered to allies, fearing Russia could move funds in advance. Assets froze until the invasion began and the image of bombing and death forced Europeans to agree almost immediately.

The freeze has made more than half of Putin’s battlefield unusable for more than $ 600 billion. Sanctions are designed to be more financially effective over time while the Russian stock market is closed and the value of the ruble plummets. Sanctions will do more to run out of Putin if they can withstand serious casualties with military aid.

EU Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis praised “very good coordination” between countries, saying sanctions are “severe and strict. Russia’s financial markets are on the verge of collapse.” Much less than the result of the expansion of the war.

But with each new sanction, the unity of 27 EU member states will be tested more than ever. When it comes to banning Russia’s oil and gas, Germany and Italy, which are heavily dependent on Russia’s energy, will be in a difficult situation. It includes the willingness of eastern member states to attack Putin as soon as possible, such as Poland and the Baltic states. The United States is less dependent on Russia’s oil and natural gas, making it easier for Biden to ban these imports early. this month.

There is also the risk that sanctions will not stop Putin, or Russia will still be able to find a way to bring goods into its economy. Trade data analyzed by ImportGenius It shows that China replaced Germany as a major exporter to Russia in 2021 — and U.S. officials say Russia sought help from the Chinese government...

On Twitter, Olivier Blanchard, a former Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund and now a Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, equates sanctions with the bombing of German factories during World War II. did. He made it impossible to prolong the long battle — and economists played a role in choosing goals.

The question remains whether that is enough for everything that has been done so far.

Blanchard recommends expanding export control from defense-related production to “production disruptions” in the Russian economy. If a Russian refrigerator requires an EU gasket, restricting access to that gasket will make the Russian economy less functional. , He said.

Tania Babyna, a professor of finance at Columbia University born in Ukraine, said sanctions tend not to stop dictators, and Putin will eventually end up unless the US and EU take more aggressive action. He warned that it could become more established. Sanctions banning the use of Russian oil and natural gas.

“He will throw everything to win and have his grandmother fight if necessary. He can’t lose Ukraine. That’s why it’s so important to cut off Russia’s energy exports,” said Babina. rice field.

However, Mr. Babina pointed out that the sanctions strategy of allies has another much more severe cost of Ukrainian life.

“How many people do we kill before Putin runs out of assets?” She asked.

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Raf Casert, an Associated Press writer in Brussels, contributed to this report.

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