Ukrainian crisis, Biden keeps the allied front united: “Moscow will pay for the invasion”

Of Giuseppe Sarcina

Four objectives of the American sanctions: the Veb bank; public debt; The regime’s “elite”, officials and oligarchs; Nord Stream 2. But the “unprecedented measures” repeatedly threatened by the White House are not yet

from our correspondent
WASHINGTON – Joe Biden announces the “first tranche” of sanctions against Russia. Four objectives: the Veb bank; public debt; The regime’s “elite”, officials and oligarchs; Nord Stream 2. The “unprecedented measures” repeatedly threatened by the White House are not yet. Instead, it is the latest warning for Vladimir Putin: «The Russian leader has started the invasion of Ukraine; he has a bizarre idea of ​​history, even going so far as to deny, it is not clear under what title, the legitimacy of Ukraine as an independent state; he has flagrantly violated international law. He is also preparing himself for further, massive military advances, including to attack Kiev ». Yet, despite everything, despite “none of us will be fooled by Putin”, Biden concludes by leaving open “the path of diplomacy, of serious negotiations”.

The US leader presented himself in front of the cameras yesterday at around 2.30 pm. Throughout the morning the White House consulted with European allies and, above all, “monitored” Putin’s moves. On Monday evening, a Biden adviser remained cautious: “The Russians have controlled the Donbass since 2014”. As if to say: it is not said that we are facing a real invasion. But in the following hours Biden, also indulging the European and Ukrainian moods, has developed another conviction: Putin’s offensive has begun. A tougher response is therefore needed, quite different from the essentially harmless measures adopted the day before yesterday against the two separatist republics, Donetsk and Lugansk. At the same time, and this is a very important political step, the American president has confirmed a flexible approach. The sanctions will be modulated in different phases, “according to Putin’s further aggressions”. To begin with, “other American soldiers already stationed in Europe will be moved to the Baltic countries”.

In any case, the impression is that this first wave will not bring the Kremlin to its knees. Biden said “the Russian government will be cut off from the Western financial circuit; it will no longer be able to raise capital and trade its securities on Western markets ”. In practice, however, the Americans blocked access only to Veb bank and its military branch, a state institution that we can compare to our Cassa Depositi e Prestiti. In essence, it is the control room for state investments in infrastructures, telecommunications and technologies. Overall, the institute has assets of $ 50 billion and a portfolio of 300 already funded projects. It will be damaged, but it can survive American sanctions. Same goes for the Russian Treasury. Today it must refinance a debt already discredited, but which is only equal to 20% of the gross domestic product. A more than sustainable level. Not to mention that the Kremlin has accumulated massive reserves of gold and foreign currencies in time. In short, more is needed to send the Moscow economy into a tailspin.

For example an end to the export of technologies to Russia and, above all, to the import of gas and oil to Europe. It is this bleak prospect that is driving the devaluation of the ruble, but at the same time bringing the price of oil to $ 100 a barrel (excellent news for Putin). Then there are the restrictions on the Russian “elite”. Certainly the oligarchs, Putin’s loyalists and their families will no longer be able to “go shopping in Milan or party in Saint Tropez …”, as Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, tweeted. But it’s There is a widespread suspicion that the Putinian narrow circle has ambushed the bulk of the wealth in tax havens. Biden also mentioned the «Nord Stream 2», the gas pipeline that directly connects Germany and Russia. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has suspended the certification of the works. The American president attributed this decision to himself: «As I promised you, Nord Stream 2 will not be built». Yesterday Biden remarked how the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom have moved in harmony. Now the toughest tests will come.

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