Chris Lange, FISM News
As Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine enters its fifth day, the West has continued to ramp up its pressure on the Kremlin through sweeping sanctions and forced isolation from global markets. The moves have been somewhat successful as the Russian rouble plummeted 30% against the dollar Monday.
The Biden administration announced new and immediate sanctions against Russia’s central bank early Monday, prohibiting American companies from doing business with the bank and freezing its assets in the U.S. The measure also targets the National Wealth Fund and the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation.
“We wanted to put these actions in place before our markets open because what we learned over the course of the weekend from our allies and partners was the Russian Central Bank was attempting to move assets and there would be a great deal of asset flight starting on Monday morning from institutions around the world,” a U.S. official told MSNBC on condition of anonymity.
“Our strategy to put it simply is to make sure that the Russian economy goes backward as long as President Putin decides to go forward with his invasion of Ukraine,” the official added.
The measure follows last week’s imposition of several rounds of sanctions targeting Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the Kremlin’s largest lenders, in an effort to cripple Moscow’s purchasing power and hamper its military funding.
On Friday, the Biden administration also gave the U.S. State Department the green light to release up to $350 million dollars’ worth of weapons from U.S. stockpiles to Ukraine through the Foreign Assistance Act in support of Ukraine’s front-line defenders. Secretary of State Antony Blinken referred to the move as “unprecedented,” according to Reuters. The Pentagon said the weapons included anti-armor, small arms, body armor, and various munitions.
President Biden authorized nearly $1 billion in military assistance to Ukraine over the past year, including $350 million in weapons such as anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles last week. The new package includes more Javelins, but defense officials say a decision to send Stingers has been put on hold. Ukraine has specifically asked for Javelin anti-tank weapons and Stinger missiles to shoot down aircraft.
Biden has also been facing mounting pressure from GOP lawmakers to block imports of Russian oil into the U.S. and open up America’s energy development, with many accusing the administration of funding Putin’s war machine.
“President Biden set us on a dangerous path when he decided to kill the Keystone XL pipeline on day one in office,” Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) told Fox News Saturday. “What’s happening in Russia and Europe is a stark reminder of the need to support American energy development, not hinder it. Energy security is national security, and a global energy dominant America is a safer world. Biden must restart the Keystone XL pipeline now,” he continued.
“The entire economy of Russia depends on the oil and gas sector,” Sen. Lindey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted on Sunday. “How about this idea? Shut it off. Don’t buy Russian oil and gas. Produce more American oil and gas” he added.
The entire economy of Russia depends on the oil and gas sector.
How about this idea?
Shut it off. Don't buy Russian oil and gas.
Produce more American oil and gas.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) February 27, 2022
House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, also called out Biden for not utilizing “American strength” in deterring Russia.
The United States must replace Russian energy with American energy independence & accelerating energy exports to our allies.
American strength deters our adversaries, and our response to Putin's unprovoked war against Ukraine demands American leadership.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) February 25, 2022
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, however, said the president has no plans to reopen the Keystone Pipeline or lift oil and gas production restrictions in the U.S. anytime soon. When pressed by NBC Sunday host George Stephanopoulos on the subject, she suggested that the Ukrainian crisis has further galvanized Biden to pursue a move toward green energy.
“What this justifies in President Biden’s view is the fact we need to reduce dependence on foreign oil, on oil in general, and look at other ways of having energy in our country,” she said.