Sanctioning Russia

Maybe. President Joe Biden (D) is acting like he’s taking action that would seem to respond to Russia’s SolarWinds hack and interference with the 2020 Presidential election. His potential action includes

  • expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats, includ[ing] representatives of Russian intelligence services
  • sanctions against “dozens” of people and companies
  • target[ing] Moscow’s ability to borrow money by prohibiting US financial institutions from buying Russian bonds directly from Russian institutions.

The sanctions will take effect on 14 June.

It turns out, on inspection that this move isn’t all that. Expelling some low-level diplomatic functionaries isn’t a very strong move. Neither is the action against Russian bonds very strong: that “sanction” explicitly allows US institutions to buy Russian bonds from resellers and elsewhere in the secondary markets. Rather than being a strong move, it just adds a trivial layer of bureaucracy.

And there’s the delay of a month-and-a-half before taking effect. It won’t take those diplomats six weeks to pack up and leave. It won’t take six weeks for business entities to adjust their relationships with the “dozens.” It won’t take six weeks for US institutions to adjust their buying procedures to focus on the secondary markets.

None of that even has to begin earlier than those six weeks.


The Biden administration will have six weeks of distractions from the threat posed by the People’s Republic of China and from the Biden administration’s begging of Iran to let the US back into the nuclear weapons development deal.

The Biden administration will have six weeks in which to let its finger-wagging at the Russians die down, followed by quietly dropping the sanction threat.

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