Did Biden blink on Russia? Limited sanctions and no summit

An article by my Hoover colleague Dr. Paul Gregory in The Hill

The U.S. media initially burst out in applause at the “sweeping” and “tough” sanctions the Biden administration imposed on Russia on April 15 under the title of “Imposing Costs for Harmful Foreign Activities by the Russian Government.” Targeted are activities that “undermine security in countries and regions important to United States national security; and violate well-established principles of international law, including respect for the territorial integrity of states” (meaning Ukraine).

The Biden justifications for the sanctions are the presumed Russian interference in the 2020 elections, Russia’s hacking and cyberwarfare, the disinformation activities of the Russian military, and other hostile acts not enumerated.

One additional sanction justification has been dropped, embarrassingly, at the last minute. The U.S. intelligence community can no longer assert with sufficient certainty that Russian forces offered rewards to Taliban fighters for killing U.S. soldiers. The sanctions document declares: “Given the sensitivity of this matter, which involves the safety and well-being of our forces, it is being handled through diplomatic, military and intelligence channels.” In other words, “Never mind” — although these supposed Russian rewards played a substantial role in the 2020 election campaign.

The Biden sanctions also prohibit U.S. financial markets from dealing with primary issues of Russian sovereign debt. This action will raise the cost of public finance to the Russian state.

Read the full article here

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