Potemkin Sanctions by a Potemkin President; One of the Banks Sanctioned by Biden Was Sanctioned in 2014 – Opinion

A president of the United States might have shown more ineptitude than Joe Biden today. However, it would not be easy to prove. Alongside the Biden showcasing his rapidly advancing dementia, Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” speech looks utterly Churchillian. The venue was Biden’s response to Vladimir Putin calling his shabby and implausible bluff and simply taking what he’d always wanted (Biden’s Ukraine Response After-Party Produces Some Horrific Optics , Joe Biden Stumbles and Slurs His Way Through an Embarrassing Response to Putin’s Ukraine Invasion).

The optics of the speech aside, let’s take a moment to look at exactly what punishment he inflicted upon Putin for publicly punking him yesterday: Vladimir Putin Runs the Table in Ukraine and Shows Joe Biden to Be a Feckless and Unreliable Security Partner.

Russian banks are under sanctions

We’re implementing full blocking sanctions on two large Russian financial institutions: V.E.B. as well as their military bank.

Corporation Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs Vnesheconombank, both Russian banks, were sanctioned. Promsvyazbank Public Joint Stock Company and (PSB) 42 of their affiliates.

How does it work? The banks can’t do business with U.S. banks, and they don’t have access to the U.S. financial system. They can, however, do business with other banks and SWIFT to access the international financial system. I’m open to admitting that I’m reading this wrong, but it looks like V.E.B. is currently under U.S. sanction since the Crimea Annexation.

Read more here.

Russian Sovereign Debt Sanctions

Biden claimed that Russia couldn’t raise any money for the West, which is perhaps his most outrageous claim.

We’re implementing comprehensive sanctions on Russian sovereign debt.  That means we’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western financing.  The West cannot raise funds for Russia and the Russian government can not trade their new debt on European markets.

This simply isn’t true. Russia can’t raise money in the United States, but it can continue to raise money in any country that does not impose sanctions. It can also raise money in China. This claim is even more fraudulent, as primary market sanctions are in effect since June 2021. Secondary market sales are the swap between debt instruments within banks. However, it does not include bonds that were issued before March 1, 2022. The only sanction imposed was for new debt. You can still buy and sell debt issued prior to March 1. This is similar to the bank sanctions. It only applies to U.S. financial institution.

Here are more details. You will find a PDF of an overview on the secondary market for sovereign debt. If you suffer from insomnia, I highly recommend this book.

Individual Russians, Things and Other Matters Sanctioned

Three Russians have been sanctioned. This means that any U.S. bank account they may own, or U.S. property in which they hold at least 50%, are now frozen.

  • Denis Aleksandrovich Bortnikov, also known as Denis Bortnikov, is the current Deputy President at Russian-state-owned financial institution V.T.B. Bank Public Joint Stock Company, V.T.B. Bank); and Chairman of V.T.B. Bank Management Board.
  • Petr Mikhailovich Fradkov, Chairman and C.E.O. PSB.
  • Vladimir Sergeevich Kiriyenko was previously a vice-president at Rostelecom, a Russian state-controlled telecom company. He is currently the C.E.O. V.K. Group, the parent company of Russia’s top social media platform, VKontakte.

Five ships–two container, two tanker, and one roll-on-roll-off–belonging to PSB were sanctioned, meaning they can’t come to an American port.

Bottom line is that Russia’s sanctions placed by Biden are absurd. The banks can freely operate in the United States. The sanctions aren’t “secondary sanctions,” which means that Deutsche Bank or Credit Suisse (these names are used purely as examples, and I’m not implying they are engaged in dealing with sanctioned entities) could trade in Russian sovereign debt and do business with the sanctioned banks so long as they didn’t do it via their U.S. subsidiaries.

Vladimir Putin will not be deterred by this sloppy response. Biden seems to have kept his January pledge that he would allow a small intrusion by the Russians. I am reminded of my observations in Vladimir Putin Rules the Table in Ukraine, and Joe Biden is a Feckless Security Partner.

One of two possibilities was what we just witnessed. Either Putin punked Joe Biden and left all the world to gape in amazement at the ease and audacity of the act, or he worked hand-in-glove with Biden and Anthony Blinken to carve up Ukraine at virtually no cost to Putin–sort of reminiscent of how Poland was dismembered in 1939.


THE PRESIDENT:  Trying to make up your mind, huh?  (Laughter.)

Well, good afternoon.  Vladimir Putin declared yesterday that two areas of Ukraine were independent states. He bizarrely claimed these territories are not part of Ukraine or their sovereign territory.  Simply put, Russia has announced it will seize a large chunk of Ukraine.

Last night, Putin authorized Russian forces to deploy into the region — these regions.  Today, he asserted that these regions are — actually extend deeper than the two areas he recognized, claiming large areas currently under the jurisdiction of the Ukraine government.

He’s setting up a rationale to take more territory by force, in my view.  And if we listen to his speech last night — and many of you did, I know — he’s — he’s setting up a rationale to go much further.

He indicated that he was ready to invade Ukraine and asked for permission.

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 sanction.

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?  It is an egregious violation of international law and requires a strong response from all members of the international community.

In preparation for that response, we worked closely with NATO Allies and European partners over the last months.  We’ve said all along and I’ve told Putin to his face a mon- — a month a- — more than a month ago that we would act together and the moment Russia moved against Ukraine.

Russia is now clearly acting against Ukraine, declaring independent states.

So, today, I’m announcing the first tranche of sanctions to impose costs on Russia in response to their actions yesterday.  These have been closely coordinated with our Allies and partners, and we’ll continue to escalate sanctions if Russia escalates.

We’re implementing full blocking sanctions on two large Russian financial institutions: V.E.B. as well as their military bank.

We’re implementing comprehensive sanctions on Russian sovereign debt.  That means we’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western financing.  Russia can’t raise any money from the West, and it cannot trade its debts on European or American markets.

Beginning Tomorrow [today] and continuing in the days ahead, we will also impose sanctions on Russia’s elites and their family members.  They are part of the corruption and profits made by the Kremlin’s policies, so they should also feel the pain.

And because of Russia’s actions, we’ve worked with Germany to ensure Nord Stream 2 will not — as I promised — will not move forward.

Russia is contemplating its next move. We are also preparing our next move.  Russia’s aggression will continue, and it will have to pay a greater price. Additional sanctions may be added.

In the interim, the United States will provide defense assistance to Ukraine.  And we’ll continue to reinforce and reassure our NATO Allies.

Today, in response to Russia’s admission that it will not withdraw its forces from Belarus, I have authorized additional movements of U.S. forces and equipment already stationed in Europe to strengthen our Baltic Allies — Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

This is purely defensive.  Russia is not being fought.  But, we would like to make it clear that together with our Allies the United States will protect every square inch of NATO territory, and keep to all the promises made to NATO.

Still, we believe Russia has the potential to launch a major military strike against Ukraine.  I hope I’m wrong about that — hope we’re wrong about that.  Russia’s threat to the remainder of Ukraine, which includes major cities as well as the capital of Kyiv has been only amplified.

There are — there are still well over 150,000 Russian troops surrounding Ukraine.  As I mentioned, Russian forces are still positioned in Belarus for attack on Ukraine from the North, with warplanes, offensive missile systems, and other weapons.

Russia has moved troops closer to Ukraine’s border with Russia.  Russia’s naval vessels are maneuvering in the Black Sea to Ukraine’s south, including amphibious assault ships, missile cruisers, and submarines.

Russia has placed supplies of medical equipment and blood at their border.  You don’t need blood unless you plan on starting a war.

And over the last few days, we’ve seen much of the playbook that Secretary Blinken laid out last week at the United Nations Security Council come to pass: a major increase in military provocations and false-flag events along the line of contact in the Donbas; dramatically staged, conveniently on-camera meeting of Putin’s Security Council to grandstand for the Russian public; and now political provocation of recognizing sovereign Ukrainian territory as so-called independent republics in clear violation, again, of international law.

Russian President Putin sought permission from the Russian Parliament to use military force beyond Russian territory.  Russia has now used further pretexts to make further threats and to provoke to justify further military actions.

None of us — none of us should be fooled.  We will not be deceived.  It is impossible to find justification.

The threat of a Russian incursion into Ukraine in the future is still very real.  Russia is responsible if Russia continues to attack Ukraine. Russia and Russia alone are responsible.

We are responding and my administration will use every tool to protect American companies, consumers, from the rising costs of gasoline.  Last week I stated that defending liberty will come with costs here in the United States.  That is what we need to admit.

But as we will do — but as we do this, I’m going to take robust action and make sure the pain of our sanctions is targeted at the Russian economy, not ours.

Our attention is on any potential disruptions to energy supply.  We’re executing a plan in coordination with major oil-producing consumers and producers toward a collective investment to secure stability and global energy supplies.

This will be — this will blunt gas prices.  The pain Americans are experiencing at the gas station is unacceptable.  I believe this is essential.

These last days have seen me in constant communication with European leaders. This includes President Zelenskyy from Ukraine.  Over the weekend, Vice President Harris met with German leaders at the Munich Conference.

At every step, we have shown that the United States and our Allies and partners are working in unison — which he hasn’t been counting on — Mr. Putin.  We’re united in our support of Ukraine.  We’re united in our opposition to Russian aggression.  And we’re united in our resolve to defend our NATO Alliance.  And we’re united in our understanding of the urgency and seriousness of the threat Russia is making to global peace and stability.

Yesterday, the world heard clearly the full extent of Vladimir Putin’s twisted rewrite of history, going back more than a century, as he waxed eloquently, noting that — well, I’m not going to go into it, but nothing in Putin’s lengthy remarks indicated any interest in pursuing real dialogue on European security in the year 2022.

He directly attacked Ukraine’s right to exist.  Indirectly, he threatened territories that were once held by Russia. This includes nations today which are democratically elected and NATO members.  He specifically threatened war against those who didn’t meet his demands.

There is no doubt that Russia is an aggressor.  So we’re clear-eyed about the challenges we’re facing.

There is still hope to avoid the worst case scenario, which will cause untold misery to millions of people.

If Russia is serious, the United States as well as our Allies and Partners are open to diplomatic negotiations.  When all is said and done, we’re going to judge Russia by its actions, not its words.

And whatever Russia does next, we’re ready to respond with unity, clarity, and conviction.

We’ll probably have more to say about this as we — if it moves on.  I’m hoping diplomacy is still available.

Many thanks.


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