Joe Biden began his Administration’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine Thursday afternoon by announcing new sanctions. Even though the White House has had months to prepare for addressing an actual Russian invasion, the talking points dissolved quickly for Biden. When pressed about the next steps for the US, Biden said he needs to wait “another month or so” to determine if sanctions are working.
Biden said that America and NATO allies would impose new sanctions on Russian banks and implement export controls to stifle Russia’s access to technology products during his address. He said that the sanctions in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “premeditated attack” would devastate the Russian economy by limiting its access to international financial markets.
A press member pointed out to Biden that Russia and Putin have been undeterred by similar sanctions leading up to the invasion. The US appears to be still withholding available sanctions. Biden was asked explicitly about disqualifying Russia from participating in SWIFT, vital banking cooperation between the world’s leading economies. The reporter asked, “Respectfully, sir, what more are you waiting for?”
Biden responded by saying that the sanctions being imposed should be sufficient and said he would be willing to “have a conversation in another month or so” about how effective his sanctions are.
Biden also said during the press conference that the sanctions that were imposed previously were never really expected to prevent a Russian invasion of Ukraine. When pressed about why he had not yet decided to sanction Putin personally directly, Biden only said that the option is “on the table.”
During Friday’s White House press conference, Peter Doocy with Fox News asked Press Secretary Jen Psaki whether the Administration feels any urgency regarding sanctions. He noted Biden’s comment about waiting a month and asked Psaki if the White House thinks the Ukrainians have that long to wait.
Psaki made her usual move of fumbling with her notebook and taking a condescending tone when she was confronted. She told Doocy she would “take a step back” and then explain “how diplomacy works.” She then went into a rambling recital of the Administration’s talking points. Meanwhile, the people of Ukraine are continuing to resist the Russians.