Russia has ruled any concession talks with the United States on the surging tensions over Ukraine which has been subject to fears regarding an invasion from Russia, which has stationed tens of thousands of troops at the Ukrainian border, prompting concerns from both Ukraine and the West that Russian may be planning a full invasion of Ukraine.
Russia is currently demanding guarantees that NATO will not expand further eastwards while insisting that they must never grant membership to Ukraine, despite NATO encouraging the ex-Soviet state to join. Ahead of the discussions that are to take place between Russia, NATO and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE); Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will be meeting with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov this evening.
Mr. Ryabkov has stated that the Kremlin was disappointed with the signals emerging from Brussels and Washington and that they will not agree to any concession. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has insisted that the coming talks will not result in progress as long as Russia has “a gun to Ukraine’s head” but he cautioned that they are prepared to respond forcefully if further Russian aggression continues, however, a diplomatic solution is still possible if it’s the preferred option of choice for Russia.
US President Joe Biden has already threatened Russia with sanctions in the event of a Ukrainian invasion with some of the measures including sanctions on Putin’s inner circle, cancelling the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany, or severing Russia’s links to the world’s banking system, which is the more extreme sanction.
A US official has also warned that Washington would send more troops to eastern NATO members such as Poland if Ukraine was invaded, with Europe also displaying its solidarity with Ukraine as High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell visiting the frontline in Ukraine.
European solidarity has also been displayed as President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen stated, “Whatever the solution, Europe has to be involved” while the US assured European allies they would not be sidelined.
Russia claims that it was deceived after the Cold War and was under the impression that NATO would not expand, however, US alliance accepted most of the former Warsaw Pact nation and the three Baltic nations that were under Soviet rule.
Is it possible that sanctions will be as effective as anticipated against Russia? Warnings from both sides have issued their reasons as to why sanctions against Russia will or will not work in the event of a Ukrainian invasion. Russia is no stranger to sanctions which has clearly been observed since 2014 when the nation annexed Crimea and engaged in military conflict with Eastern Ukraine.
Since then, Russia’s sanctions list has increased each year and now consists of over 500 companies and 300 individuals, and have been imposed by either one or multiple nations. With a list of sanctions this vast, Russia continues to increase its troop presence at the Ukrainian border and demands that NATO does not expand eastwards, showing that Russia is not affected by these sanctions or at least isn’t phased by them.
Russia has been threatened with being removed from SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications), however, Russia has been developing its own payment system since it was initially threatened with the sanction back in 2014 when Crimea was annexed.
Although nowhere near as developed as SWIFT, the Russian System for Transfer of Financial Messages handles about 20% of all of Russia’s financial communications. Russia may also welcome the Chinese cross-border Interbank Payment System (CIPS) and will most likely be glad to expand its reach to Russia as an alternative to banking systems that other countries have received as being too tightly controlled by US-driven policy.
As a result, Washington may have to impose more strict sanctions that will target major Russian banks which would cut any designated bank off from the use of the US dollar or any transactions involving the US dollar. VEB serves as a development bank for the Russian Government while RDIF serves as a sovereign-wealth fund that supports major Government projects.
The blocking of these banks may interfere with Russia’s leadership projects and their oligarch supporters. Another bank on the draft sanction list is Sberbank, which is Russia’s largest domestic bank, the blocking of which, would potentially result in disruption to small businesses and individual customers.
IMAGE – “Vladimir Putin” by theglobalpanorama is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0