The U.S. Hammers Down on Russia – But Is It Too Late?

By 

Jay Sekulow

|
February 23

5 min read

Foreign Policy

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In response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion into Ukraine, the U.S. is rolling out sanctions on Russia. The U.S. placed sanctions on two significant financial institutions in Russia as well as additional sanctions hampering Russia’s ability to deal with sovereign debt. Will these sanctions have an impact? Or is it too late?

President Biden held a briefing to discuss this move by the United States:

This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, as he indicated and asked permission to be able to do from his Duma. So, let’s begin to – so, I’m going to begin to impose sanctions in response, far beyond the steps we and our Allies and partners implemented in 2014. And if Russia goes further with this invasion, we stand prepared to go further as – with sanctions. Who in the Lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries on territory that belonged to his neighbors? This is a flagrant violation of international law, and it demands a firm response from the international community.

In response to Putin’s actions, we imposed sanctions on Russia. But are these crippling sanctions that could actually deter him? ACLJ Director of Policy Harry Hutchison explained what these sanctions really mean:

Essentially, this will bar these two specific banks from engaging in financial transactions with other banks throughout the world system. The problem with that . . . is that these two large banks, which are very significant banks in Russia, they will simply utilize accounts that they have with other banks. . . . The United States has not imposed sanctions on the entire banking system in Russia. That would’ve been much more significant. In addition, Russia will continue to engage in banking transactions with China, with Iran, with Turkey, and with a rash of other countries. So, what we have done is, we have made banking in Russia inconvenient. I can see that these sanctions are the most significant sanctions that the Biden Administration has imposed so far, but they are not crippling sanctions, and I think at the end of the day, Russia will work around them.

They are not crippling sanctions, and they were certainly not timely sanctions either. ACLJ Senior Counsel Andy Ekonomou pointed out that these sanctions were too little, too late:

Putin is a very smart man. . . . He outfoxed us in the sense of the timing of this thing. These sanctions that . . . can be worked around were not timed really in an effective fashion, because he knew . . . exactly what the repercussions were going to be. Don’t think he didn’t recognize these two breakaway areas of Ukraine and what the sanctions that Biden was going to put on were before he did it. Of course, he knew what he was doing, and he knew he could actually connive around those sanctions and go towards his ultimate aim and that is the annexation completely of Ukraine. . . . The timing is too little, too late in my estimation.

In another dangerous development, according to Newsweek, United States intelligence officials have reportedly notified the Ukrainian president that Russia will launch a “full-scale” invasion of Ukraine within the next 48 hours.

ACLJ Senior Advisor for National Security and Foreign Policy and former Acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell gave his read of the situation:

Look . . . President Biden is not utilizing all of the options that are afforded to him. We should be having serious sanctions . . . in the lead up to what he is clearly messaging is a bloody war around the corner. I am troubled by the politicization of intelligence where we are trying to literally scare the Ukrainians into submission of somehow to say that the Russians are coming in and they shouldn’t fight. It seems to me that the Biden team is trying to send a message to the Ukrainians that there is no possible way to fight back against the Russians and that they should just let the Russians roll over. I don’t see how you look at this situation and say that Joe Biden is somehow defending the Ukrainians or helping the Ukrainians in any substantive way. It seems to me that this emotional response from the entire Biden team is an acquiescence to Putin. And Putin sees it like that. There is no question that he is undeterred.

Ric also gave insight into the intelligence reporting:

The intelligence analysts who say they know exactly what Putin is doing – this is an estimate. This is not a verified intelligence. This is an estimate of what the analysts believe the situation . . . how it’s evolving. That’s really important.

These predictions could very well turn into reality. We will continue monitoring this escalating situation and provide you with updates.

Today’s full Sekulow broadcast is complete with even more analysis of the Russian/Ukraine conflict. 

Watch the full broadcast below.

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