US wants sanctions to hit Russian industry, but spare consumers – White House

Washington apparently believes attempts to shatter Russian economy will have no effect on ordinary Russians

The Biden administration says sanctions that it plans to introduce against Russia in the event of a hypothetical war with Ukraine would target Russian industry and key public figures, but not ordinary people.

We can’t preview every action, but the intent there really is to have measures that we think will degrade Russia’s industrial capabilities and industrial production capacity over time, not to go after individual, everyday Russian consumers,” White House national security official Peter Harrell said in a speech to the Massachusetts Export Center on Thursday, as cited by Reuters.

Harrell also stated that in the event of military escalation, Washington is ready to immediately impose “crippling financial costs on major Russian financial institutions as well as to impose a range of quite sweeping export controls that will degrade Russian industrial capacity over the mid- and long term.” He went on to specify that the US strategy includes sanctions against major Russian financial institutions aiming “to trigger capital flight, to trigger inflation, to make the Russian Central Bank provide bailouts to its banks… so [Russian President Vladimir] Putin feels costs on day one.” Harrell’s remarks narrow the scope of measures that may be introduced, however, it appears unlikely that the ordinary consumer in Russia would not be affected by the collapse of the country’s economy, as Washington proposes.

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Harrell did say he hoped measures would never have to be implemented, but stressed that Washington is fully prepared to introduce them if need be. According to the official, the measures aim to “degrade Russia’s ability to have industrial production in a couple of key sectors.” He did not specify the sectors, but other White House officials did mention the aviation, maritime, robotics, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and defense industries. According to various sources, the US has the means to stop firms worldwide from shipping items like semiconductor chips made with US technology to Russia, as it did with China’s Huawei. Talks regarding the matter have reportedly been held with Taiwan and South Korea, major manufacturers of chips.

On Friday, Commerce Department official Thea Kendler noted that sanctions would also target Russia’s “key people,” while US President Joe Biden earlier this week vowed to consider personal sanctions against the Russian leader himself.

All measures are to come “in waves,” with US officials “quite confident we will have a very high degree of alignment with Europe if Russia does invade Ukraine.

READ MORE: US warns it may ban chip exports to Russia

The talk of potential sanctions against Russia comes amid the global hype over Moscow’s recent amassing of troops in its regions bordering with neighboring Ukraine. Western states, largely at the behest of Washington, view it as a preface to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin, however, repeatedly stressed that no such intentions exist and the movement of a country’s troops within its borders should not concern outsiders.

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