US and EU sanctions on Russia “proportionate to Putin’s moves”

In the event of a Donbass attack, the supply of technological material would be blocked, with the taking of Odessa the exclusion of Moscow banks from the international Swift system. Gas and oil affected if Kiev is taken

WASHINGTON – United States And European countries they are agreeing a gradual scheme to modulate the sanctions to be imposed on Russia, in the event of an attack on Ukraine. Joe Biden has repeatedly stated that the West is “solidly united” and ready to “quickly” apply “never-before-seen punitive measures”; and a few minutes after Vladimir Putin’s recognition of the independence of Donetsk and Lugansk, in Donbass, the EU spoke of “sanctions on the table”.

There have actually been a number of problems in the last few weeks. In mid-January, in one of the first press conferences on the crisis, the American president had indicated the first objective export of Russian gaswhich accounts for about 15% of gross domestic product, but which represents the most important source of “cash flow”, of immediate income for the economy of the country led by Vladimir Putin.
European leaders never liked the idea.

Last week the prime minister Mario Draghi he came out into the open, noting that “sanctions must be effective and sustainable”, excluding the blocking of Russian gas exports from the list of choices. At the same time the governments of the two Atlantic shores were divided on another issue: how to react if Putin were to order “a limited raid”? Once again Biden had tried to dictate the line: “very heavy” restrictions even if he had been a single soldier to violate the borders of Ukraine. Now, however, he is thinking about a progressive approach, a lineup divided into phases. We can reconstruct it in a summary way, on the basis of the indiscretions collected on several sides, some confirmed even officially.

On Friday, February 18, White House economic adviser Daleep Singh explained to reportersi: “Our financial sanctions have been calibrated to maximize alignment with our partners. They are flexible to allow for further escalation or de-escalation, depending on Putin’s reactions. And they are sanctions responsible to avoid heavy repercussions on the Russian population and to limit costs for the United States and the global economy ». Then Singh added: “All options remain on the table, but you probably won’t see the Swift (the international payment system) in the first wave of sanctions ».

And on Sunday 20 February, on the plane returning from Munich, vice president Kamala Harris commented on Singh’s departure: “We will decide moment by moment, in consideration of what can happen in terms of escalation.” The western answer would therefore be “Proportionate” to Putin’s moves.

First scenario: occupation of the Donbass, the region of Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian formations. The United States and Europeans would react by blocking the supply of technological material to Russian companies: components for artificial intelligence, semiconductors, robotics, quantum computing, aviation.

Second hypothesis: Kremlin tanks or ships invade a part of the territory east of the Dnieper River or disable the port of Odessa. In this case Russian banks are excluded from the Swift international payment system. Russian finance would no longer have access to the dollar and perhaps even the euro circuit. Moscow would risk collapse, a kind of economic heart attack.

Third possibility, the most catastrophic: bombing and occupation of Kiev. Only at this point the allies would hit gas and oil supplies.

There are, however, still aspects to be clarified. Discussions are underway whether to immediately block the “North Stream2”, the gas pipeline between Germany and Russia is not yet in operation. Doubts even about when to trigger personal sanctions for Putin and for Kremlin leaders.

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