US warns of ‘nuclear’ economic sanctions on Russia ahead of Joe Biden-Vladimir Putin talks
The United States is prepared to target Russia with “nuclear” economic sanctions that could see Moscow shut out of the global electronic payment system if it invades Ukraine.
Plans for potential “aggressive sanctions” were revealed Monday evening ahead of the much-anticipated video talks between Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden on Tuesday afternoon.
The conference call between the Russian and US leaders is widely seen as Washington’s last-ditch attempt to ease tensions over fears Moscow is preparing to attack its neighbor.
The White House will be prepared to take the ânuclear optionâ and disconnect Russia from the SWIFT international payment system used by banks around the world if Moscow invades it, CNN reported on Monday, citing administration sources.
One official reportedly described the sanctions package under discussion as “quite aggressive”, on par with the restrictions Iran and North Korea face.
An anonymous White House official called the proposed sanctions “a way forward that will allow us to send a clear message to Russia that there will be real, significant and lasting costs in choosing to move forward with military escalation “.
Other unnamed officials have said that a new round of sanctions could target Russian energy producers, banks and potentially major Russian oligarchs.
Officials said the decision to impose the sanctions had not been taken and was being discussed with European allies in Washington for a potentially coordinated response.
In Kiev, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he was confident that Mr. Putin “will hear clear signals from President Biden on what Ukraine’s allies will do in case Putin resorts to a military operation against our country “.
Russian stocks haven’t shown much movement following the announcement of potentially crippling economic sanctions, as markets still seem to view an invasion as unlikely.
Russia has amassed tanks, heavy weapons and around 100,000 troops near Ukraine for several weeks. Open source data and intelligence reports indicate that large amounts of weapons are moving across Russia.