A Whole Lot of Hammers Are Starting to Drop on Putin and Russia – Opinion

As we reported earlier, Vladimir Putin has been pushed up against the wall by Ukraine’s resistance, the likes of which he did not expect. On Saturday, the U.S. and the EU agreed to block “selected” Russian banks from the SWIFT system. Putin’s position is now being further hampered by a range of European sanctions and other actions.

I reported on Saturday that European countries – even Germany, which had been hesitant – are all providing lethal aid: weapons, ammunition, and fuel. But now, they’re going to be providing fighter jets for the Ukrainians, according to EU foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell.

On top of that, they’re also doing something else that may be significant: cutting off Russia from EU airspace and they’re banning “pro-Kremlin” media.

Meanwhile, the European Union plans to close its airspace to Russian airlines, fund a weapons purchase to assist Ukraine and ban some pro-Kremlin media outlets in its latest response to Russia’s invasion, European Commission officials said Sunday. This is the first time that the bloc would fund military equipment to a country in danger.

The U.S. urged Russian Americans to leave immediately after receiving this news, in order to prevent the country’s shutdown.

It is crucial to keep an eye on another hammer in case it falls.

On Monday, the neutral Swiss will also consider joining Western countries in sanctioning Russi. Swiss President Ignazio Cassis said Sunday it was “very probable” the Swiss would follow the EU’s lead and sanction Russia and freeze Russian assets in the country, Reuters reported.

It’s a bold statement by the traditionally neutral Switzerland to take this step. It’s also true that Switzerland has a lot of Russian money squirreled away in bank accounts there. That money is likely to be frozen, which will make Putin very unsatisfied.

That may explain why two Russian billionaires – Mikhail Fridman and Oleg Deripaska – are calling for an end to the fighting.

One of Fridman’s long-term partners, Pyotr Aven, attended a meeting at the Kremlin with Putin and 36 other major Russian businessmen last week, the Kremlin said.

A Moscow billionaire also told Reuters, on condition that anonymity be maintained, that war would result in a disaster.

“It is going to be catastrophic in all senses: for the economy, for relations with the rest of the world, for the political situation,” the billionaire said.

According to Putin, the silence of billionaires who met with Putin in Moscow on Thursday was a sign that they were not listening.

“Businessmen understand very well the consequences. But who is asking the opinion of business about this?”

They’re not sounding very happy. We reported that Deripaska was sanctioned previously for his close relationship to Putin. As you might recall, Christopher Steele worked previously for Deripaska. This was the man with close Putin ties and also provided information to Clinton campaign staffers. This direct link is likely to be receiving a lot more attention from John Durham, Special Counsel. However, this scenario makes one think that Putin is under greater pressure.

Russia’s banks will be frantic tomorrow.

Now, the ball is in Putin’s court.

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