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Biden administration split over Russia sanctions – Bloomberg — Analysis

Bloomberg reports that Biden’s administration is divided over the extent to which sanctions can be pushed against Russia by America without compromising its own economy. 

According to the news agency, US President Joe Biden’s team has largely backed the sanctions plan Washington set in motion after Russia attacked Ukraine in late February. Bloomberg reports that the topic has become more contentious as sanctions have failed to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin of a change in course. Bloomberg cited sources who were familiar with the matter.

Two factions of US officials working in the Biden administration are reported to have been formed. The White House and State Department officials are said to have formed a second group, which advocates for more aggressive sanctions enforcement.

Bloomberg reports that they believe it is possible to overcome any resistance from US partners and allies.

A second group of people, mostly Treasury Department employees, raised concern about the potential economic problems such measures would cause, particularly considering how Americans already suffer from high prices for oil and rising inflation. Some are also said to be worried about the upcoming midterm election in November, and Democrats’ chances to hold their seats in Congress.

Bloomberg sources described however the ongoing talks as “healthy internal debate,”The Treasury isn’t unusual in examining policies that may cause economic distress.

US is suffering from high inflation and record gas prices. Biden tried to blame Putin and the conflict in Ukraine.

According to the Pew research center, however, the annual rate of inflation hit 6.2%, the highest in more than three decades, as early as in October 2021, long before Moscow’s attack on Ukraine.

Bloomberg stated that Washington could be left alone if it imposes more sanctions on Moscow. This would create a wedge between its allies and the US.

The US and UK have previously placed restrictions on Russian oil, gas and fuel. However, the EU was not able to follow the US lead. Olaf Scholz (German Chancellor) stated in March that he would prefer to apply “sustainable”German consumers wouldn’t feel too burdened by Moscow-imposed pressure. 

Last month, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck claimed the EU’s unity on Russia sanctions is starting to crumble.

“After Russia’s attack on Ukraine, we saw what can happen when Europe stands united. With a view to the summit tomorrow, let’s hope it continues like this. But it is already starting to crumble and crumble again,”He spoke at a conference of media in May, just before an EU meeting regarding sanctions. 

Russian gas embargo not on the table – Austria

Although the EU was able to agree on banning Russian oil imports, it did so only after caving in to Hungary’s demands to exempt it from enforcing the sanctions so it could continue to rely on the Druzhba oil pipeline.

According to Karl Nehammer of Austria, the Russian Gas Embargo is still not possible.

Russia attacked Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. French- and German-brokered protocol were created to provide special status for the Ukrainian states that had broken away from the state.

Since then, the Kremlin demanded Ukraine declare itself neutral and vow to never join NATO’s military bloc. Kiev maintains that Russia’s offensive was not provoked and denies claims that it planned to seize the two republics.

The attack triggered a sharp response from the West, which imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia, freezing the assets of Russia’s Central Bank, targeting senior government officials, and cutting off economic ties.

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