This past Friday, Jacqui Heinrich, with Fox News, put forth a question to Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary, about the comments she gave on potential sanctions against Russia, and as to why the United States would not be proactive all and would only respond after an invasion took place with any sort of sanctions or response.
Once she had highlighted the fact that any sanctions that would be imposed most likely would not include any actions related to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), and that the most recent cyberattack has been blamed on Russia, Heinrich questioned Psaki if a change of strategy is entirely needed.
“So, at what point do you break away from the strategy, say it’s not working, and do something else — impose some of these sanctions now?” questioned the reporter.
Psaki answered, stating that “sanctions are meant to be a deterrent,” and if they were to be used now, “what is stopping them from invading?”
Heinrich then asked if the whole deterrent is working at all, which sparked Psaki to reply that it is “our assessment from the national security team,” and that the strategy would continue as planned.
“So, you’re waiting for people to die before implementing them in that case?” asked Heinrich.
Psaki shot back that the question from Heinrich was entirely “unfair,” before going on to add that Old Uncle Joe has united “countries around the world on a strong package that will be crippling to the Russian economy.”
The press secretary also went on to state that one of the apparent goals for Putin was to sow division between NATO countries, which, she stated was not taking place.
As the aggression from Russia continues to spike toward Ukraine, there have been many calls to arms to instate pre-invasion sanctions on Russia.
As part of an interview, this past Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) stated to host George Stephanopoulos that Putin should be “punished now.”
“He’s got 100,000 troops amassed on the Ukrainian border, and he’s paying no price at all,” stated the senator. “So I’d like to hit him now for the provocation and have sanctions spelled out very clearly, what happens to the ruble and his oil and gas economy. I think that’s what’s missing.”
In the same vein, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated recently that sanctions should already start being imposed:
You’re telling me that it’s 100% that the war will start in a couple of days. Then what [are you] waiting for? … We don’t need your sanctions after the bombardment will happen, and after our country will be fired at or after we will have no borders or after we will have no economy or parts of our country will be occupied. Why would we need those sanctions then?
HEINRICH: And on Ukraine, the sanctions, we’ve learned, don’t include SWIFT, they don’t target energy, so the impacts to other countries are mitigated. You guys have attributed this cyberattack to Russia, and you’re warning that the prospect of war is — or peace, rather, is pretty dim. So, at what point do you break away from the strategy, say it’s not working, and do something else — impose some of these sanctions now?
PSAKI: Well, I think as we’ve talked about a little bit in here, our collective view from our national security team is that sanctions are meant to be a deterrent. They are not — if you put all of the sanctions in place now, what is stopping them from invading?
HEINRICH: But are they working?
PSAKI: Well, again, Jacqui, I think that’s our assessment from the national security team and — you know, that we will continue to implement that strategy.
HEINRICH: So you’re waiting for people to die before implementing them in that case?
PSAKI: I think, Jacqui, that’s in no way a fair statement — or accusation, I guess, if that’s what that is.
What we have done and what the president has done is unite hundr- — countries around the world on a strong package that will be crippling to the Russian economy. And we have done that in a way where we have stood up for the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and stood with our NATO partners and Allies.
It has always been up to President Putin and Russia to determine which path they were going to take. That has not changed. But that leadership on the world stage is what has led to a united front and united opposition to these actions.
And I would also note that regardless of what decision President Putin decides to make, one of his intended objectives, I think, as we’ve seen out there, is to divide NATO — the opposite has happened; to divide, maybe, the United States and divide leadership in the United States — the opposite has happened.
So, if that was his objective, he’s already not achieving that.