Russia Sanctions Biden and Several U.S. Officials

Russia Sanctions Biden and Several U.S. Officials


On Tuesday, March 15, Russia imposed sanctions on a wide range of U.S. officials, including U.S. President Joe Biden, marking another escalation of tensions between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the West.

According to the statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry on March 15, the blacklist consists of the following individuals: Joe Biden, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, Biden's National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, CIA Director William Burns, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, Deputy National Security Adviser Dalip Singh, Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development Samantha Power, Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, and Deputy Director of the U.S. Department of State George Soros. All of them will be banned from entering Russia.

The “black list” also includes some unofficial individuals such as Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, and former presidential candidate and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The move is largely symbolic as it is unlikely that members of the Biden administration will travel to Russia anytime soon. The Biden administration has ruled out possible meetings with Vladimir Putin, doubting that he is interested in a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the sanctions were a response to U.S. measures that are part of a large-scale Western campaign to counter Russia's military actions in Ukraine. The statement says that the sanctions are “an inevitable consequence of the extremely Russophobic course of the current U.S. administration, which has staked on frontal containment of Russia in a desperate attempt to maintain American hegemony, shedding all vestiges of respectability.”

The Russian government admitted that there might be new sanctions in the future, and the “black list” will be expanded to include “senior US officials, military officers, legislators, businessmen, experts, and media representatives who are Russophobic or contribute to inciting hatred against Russia and imposing restrictive measures.”

The statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry also said that the Russian government “does not refuse to maintain official relations if they are in Russia's national interest.” “If necessary, we will address problems, arising from the status of blacklisted individuals to organize communication at the highest level,” the statement said.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the sanctions were imposed in conjunction with other decisions “to protect the Russian economy and ensure its sustainable development.” Nevertheless, Russia may be forced to default on its debts.

“Half of the country's foreign reserves – about $315 billion – have been frozen because of Western sanctions,” Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on March 13. As a result, Moscow will pay debts to creditors from “unfriendly countries” in rubles until sanctions are lifted, he said.

Rating agencies are likely to consider Russia bankrupt if it misses payments or repays debts issued in dollars or euros with other currencies, such as the ruble or Chinese yuan. A default could force the few remaining foreign investors to leave Russia.

According to JPMorgan Chase, the default could come as early as Wednesday, when Moscow will have to pay $117 million in interest payments on dollar-denominated government bonds.

On March 15, Russia also announced a ban on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly and Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand. The foreign ministry announced the restrictions on Canadian officials shortly after Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelenskyy addressed the Canadian parliament.

Russia's actions come amid new U.S. sanctions against Russian leaders and their allies abroad. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, Washington has imposed sanctions against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. In addition, the Biden administration has made 11 Russian military officials its target.

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