Washington’s New Worry: The Dangers of Pinning Putin

In fact, President Biden announced broad sanctions on Thursday, targeting the Russian oligarch class. Many of those named — including Dmitry S. Peskov, Mr. Putin’s spokesman and one of his close advisers — are among his most influential defenders and beneficiaries of the system he created.

Mr Biden, reading a prepared statement and not answering any questions, said the sanctions had already had “a profound impact”.

Hours after his speech, S&P downgraded Russia’s credit rating to CCC-, the rating agency said in a statement. That’s well below the junk bond levels Russia was rated at days after the invasion, and just two notches above a warning that the country was about to default.

It suggested that Mr Putin’s efforts to “protect his economy from sanctions” had largely failed. And at least for now, there’s no discernible ramp out for the Russian leader unless he declares a ceasefire or withdraws his forces – steps he hasn’t until now. present showed no interest in taking.

At a White House press briefing on Thursday afternoon, Jen Psaki, the press secretary, said she was unaware of any effort to show Mr Putin a way out. “I think right now they are marching towards Kyiv with a convoy and continuing to take seemingly barbaric measures against the Ukrainian people, so now is not the time to offer options to reduce sanctions.

Still, a senior State Department official, when asked about the administration’s debates about the risks ahead, said there were nuances in the administration’s approach that hinted at possible risks. exits for the Russian leader.

Mr. Biden’s policy, the official said, was not to seek regime change in Russia. The idea, he said, was to influence Mr. Putin’s actions, not his grip on power. And the sanctions, the official noted, were not intended as punishment, but as leverage to end the war. They will escalate if Mr Putin steps up, the official said. But the administration would calibrate its sanctions, and perhaps reduce them, if Mr. Putin began to defuse.

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