Joe Biden spoke today about new sanctions that the U.S. was going to be imposing on Russia.
Biden announced that the U.S. — with some of the other allies of NATO and the G7 countries — would be revoking what is commonly referred to as “most favored nation status” for Russia or “permanent normal trade relations” (PNTR).
President Biden announces the U.S. and NATO allies will remove “most favored nation” status for Russia:
“Doing it in unison with other nations that make up half of the global economy, will be another crushing blow to the Russian economy.” pic.twitter.com/jMg43ZxhED
— The Recount (@therecount) March 11, 2022
Biden said that they were going to act jointly “to squeeze Putin and hold him even more accountable for his aggression against Ukraine.”
“We are also taking a further step of abandoning imports of goods from several signature sectors of the Russian economy including seafood, vodka and diamonds,” Biden continued. “The G-7 will seek to deny Russia the ability to borrow from leading multinational institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.”
“Putin is the aggressor and Putin must pay the price,” Biden said.
Biden kept reiterating they would not have troops in Ukraine as that would trigger World War III. I would agree we don’t want that, but every time he says that, he telegraphs to Putin that his biggest concern is off the table. Which is why you don’t keep saying what’s off the table.
I’m not sure how much difference these sanctions will make at this point to Vladimir Putin, who doesn’t care about how much his people hurt in the process of all this. What makes a difference to Putin is weapons and while the U.S. has provided some weapons, they’ve held back on things like the Polish planes, playing this game of “Some weapons are okay and others aren’t,” which doesn’t quite make any sense.
Biden read his remarks and then only took one question in response, about rumors regarding the possibility that Russia might use chemical weapons. Biden said that if Russia did that, they would “pay a severe price.”
JUST IN: “Russia would pay a severe price if they used chemical weapons,” Pres. Biden says.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) March 11, 2022
Biden takes one question from reporters after his speech before leaving the room.
“Russia would pay a severe price if they used chemical weapons.” pic.twitter.com/3MBOC62wrv
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) March 11, 2022
The problem is that Putin has the example of the red line of Barack Obama in Syria to know that Biden’s “pay a severe price” is amorphous and doesn’t necessarily mean a lot. He’s also seen that Biden’s threats in Afghanistan didn’t mean much either. This is another situation where being weak in the past doesn’t serve him well.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was stoking those rumors about chemical weapons on Thursday. She addressed the Russian accusations of U.S. biological or chemical weapons development in Ukraine, suggesting there might be biological/chemical weapon attacks precipitated by the Russians that they would then blame on the U.S. and the Ukrainians. That would then raise the stakes of potential further western involvement in the war, although Psaki refused to say if the use of chemical weapons would be a “red line” that Putin couldn’t cross. But she isn’t the only one who has brought up the possibility of biological/chemical weapons use.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) also mentioned it when he was questioning Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland about the claim. Rubio asked if there were biological or chemical weapons in Ukraine, presumably anticipating that she would say no. But instead, her response was not a straight out no, but that there were biological research labs the U.S. was very worried about that might fall into the hands of the Russians. Rubio’s concern then was to point out if there was a “release” that that would mean Russia did it.
Ukraine has “biological research facilities,” says Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, when asked by Sen Rubio if Ukraine has biological or chemical weapons, and says she’s worried Russia may get them. But she says she’s 100% sure if there’s a biological attack, it’s Russia. pic.twitter.com/uo3dHDMfAS
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 8, 2022
Obviously, with Rubio’s mention of it and Psaki’s, they have some fear that something is going to happen. The UN is also warning the Russians about any chemical weapons use as well, according to Live Now from Fox. Which makes one wonder, just what exactly was going on there that they’re worried about?