Vladimir Putin Just Seized A Fifth Of Ukraine, But Biden Sanctions May Still Stop Him

Given the growing economic costs of sanctions about the Russian government and increasingly explicit nuclear threats of the Kremlin, the Biden administration still believes that a war of attrition is the only way to beat Vladimir Putin.

The latest stretch of sanctions punishing Russia for its illegal annexation of four Ukrainian provinces they won’t turn the tide of the war, administration officials said Friday, but they are the surest way to continue supporting the Ukrainian resistance without risking direct American involvement.

“The sanctions element of our strategy, the economic pressure we are putting on Russia and the denial of their ability to gather what they need to be able to regenerate their war machine, has been a critical element to how we have prosecuted our strategy so far,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters in the White House briefing room. “The impacts of this will continue to be felt month to month as we go forward and it puts us in a stronger position, and Russia in a more disadvantaged position.”

Sullivan’s comments came hours after the Commerce, State and Treasury departments announced new economic, diplomatic and financial actions against Russia and its leadership in response to Putin’s announcement Friday morning that four Ukrainian provinces are now territory. Russian.

“People who live in Luhansk and Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are becoming our citizens. Forever,” Putin said in a speech from the Kremlin on Friday morning, naming the four Ukrainian provinces, which make up almost a fifth of Ukraine’s territory. The annexation, which is illegal under international law and has been met with a series of sanctions, visa restrictions and other economic measures by allied governments around the world, was widely expected by US officials in the months leading up to Putin’s announcement, though the debate over the Biden administration’s response was a matter of internal dispute.

That’s an answer from BS. There is no better time to support accelerated NATO membership than when half the country has been stolen.

“What is a proportionate response to the illegal seizure of a fifth of an ally’s territory?” a senior US official told The Daily Beast earlier a series of false elections in the occupied provinces that were used to justify Putin’s annexation speech. “Russia waited seven years after annexing Crimea to mount another unassuming invasion of Ukraine; without a proportionate response, whatever that may be, there is no disincentive to deter them from another invasion seven years from now.”

In the first hours after annexation, the administration’s counteroffensive focused primarily on the economic front: sanctions against the head of Russia’s central bank, more than two hundred members of the Russian Federal Assembly, and companies that feed supply chains. Russian military.

“These sanctions will impose costs on individuals and entities, inside and outside of Russia, that provide political or economic support to illegal attempts to change the status of Ukrainian territory,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “We will bring the international community together to denounce these movements and hold Russia accountable.”

Despite those steps, the debate over a proportionate response continues, with some top State Department officials pushing for the US to more aggressively back Ukraine’s bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a a proposal that Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has called for and that Sullivan sidestepped.

“The best way to support Ukraine is through practical support on the ground in Ukraine,” Sullivan said, adding that the issue of accelerating Ukraine’s entry into the NATO mutual defense pact “should be addressed at some point.” different”.

“That’s a BS response,” a senior US diplomat told The Daily Beast when sent a transcript of Sullivan’s remarks. “There is no better time to support accelerated NATO membership than when half the country has been stolen.”

Of course, US support for the Ukrainian resistance does not manifest itself solely in the form of punitive measures against the Kremlin. Earlier this week, the Pentagon announced an additional $1.1 billion in additional security assistance for the country, including artillery rocket systems, armored vehicles, drones and bulletproof vests, and Biden signed a spending bill on Friday. interim provisions that included nearly $12 billion in additional aid. for Ukraine.

But while limited military assistance to Ukraine has helped Kyiv make significant gains in eastern Ukraine against Russian forces, a national security official said, the White House and the National Security Council are constantly aware that backing Putin in too narrow a bind risks provoking increasingly desperate responses.

“There are two top priorities: 1) support Ukraine’s attempts to expel Russian forces and recapture its occupied territory; and 2) don’t do it in a way that triggers World War III,” the official said. “Those two priorities are not in conflict of definitions, but the margin is narrowing.”

Just look at the apparent sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, the official said, as an indicator of how far Putin can go as the invasion falters and inexperienced russian recruits replace tens of thousands of soldiers killed at the front. The pipelines, which were found Monday to be leaking massive methane gas after underwater explosions, supplied nearly 20 percent of Europe’s natural gas before the invasion.

The threat to continue implausibly deniable sabotage it’s far from the main concern, however. Those would be Putin’s increasingly explicit threats of nuclear war should Russian territory, which now includes much of eastern Ukraine, at least in the eyes of the Kremlin, come under threat.

Biden called the leaks “deliberate act of sabotage”, although he later avoided blaming the Russian government directly for an attack on the pipeline. “At the appropriate time, when things calm down, we will send the divers out to find out exactly what happened.”

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