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Joe Biden’s team briefs Wall Street on potential Russian sanctions

Executives from the nation’s largest banks were briefed by Biden’s team on potential sanctions it could levy on Russia if it were to invade Ukraine

Members of Biden’s National Security Council met with executives from banks like Citigroup, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, according to Bloomberg. 

The U.S. and the European Union are developing a package that would include targeting Moscow’s ability to convert its currency. 

Energy penalties that are under consideration include cutting off access to its Swift system, which manages 42 million orders a day for payments, Bloomberg reports. Swift is considered the nuclear option and the most divisive. 

SWIFT, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, is used by over 11,000 financial institutions across the world and is essential to global finance. Without access, most financial institutions could not send money into or out of Russia. 

‘Implications for global trade and the financial markets must be a major consideration for policy makers,’ Tomasz Noetzel and Jonathan Tyce, analysts at Bloomberg Intelligence, said in a research report. ‘Russia is one of the largest exporters of oil and gas, and relies on the system to settle dollar-denominated bills.’

Russian servicemen from the units of the 150th Motor Rifle Division of the Southern Military District take part in exercises on the training grounds in the Rostov Region, Russia,

Ukrainian officials in Kiev, pictured above, have asked the Biden administration to done down its rhetoric on the potential invasion

Ukrainian officials in Kiev, pictured above, have asked the Biden administration to done down its rhetoric on the potential invasion 

One person familiar with the meeting said the Biden administration expressed concerns about potential spillover effects to 2018, when sanctions against Russia disrupted the global supply chain, which sent metal and aluminum prices soaring. 

Inflation is already a sticking point for Biden, as prices in the U.S. have soared to their highest level in 40 years.  

The White House has for months warned Vladimir Putin of stern sanctions if he were to invade Ukraine as Russia amassed 120,000 troops on the border, and this week Biden even warned the Russian leader of rare personal sanctions. 

Still, Russia’s top diplomat again insisted ‘doesn’t want a war’ in eastern Europe.  

At the same time, the U.S. sent a huge $200 million shipment of arms to Ukraine to help shore up defenses, as the Pentagon told 8,500 troops to be ready to deploy to Eastern Europe if the situation deteriorates. 

The US is considering targeting Putin and his inner circle, as well as threatening export restrictions on artificial intelligence, quantum computing and aerospace, and offering to shore up Europe’s supply of natural gas.

The White House has for months warned Vladimir Putin of stern sanctions if he were to invade Ukraine as Russia amassed 120,000 troops on the border, and this week Biden even warned the Russian leader of rare personal sanctions

The White House has for months warned Vladimir Putin of stern sanctions if he were to invade Ukraine as Russia amassed 120,000 troops on the border, and this week Biden even warned the Russian leader of rare personal sanctions

About 3,000 servicemen of the Guards Red Banner Combined Arms Army of the Western Military District (ZVO) have begun combat training at training grounds in the regions of Rostov, Krasnodar, Yaroslav, Voronezh, Belgorod, Bryansk and Smolensk.

About 3,000 servicemen of the Guards Red Banner Combined Arms Army of the Western Military District (ZVO) have begun combat training at training grounds in the regions of Rostov, Krasnodar, Yaroslav, Voronezh, Belgorod, Bryansk and Smolensk.

Three US cargo planes landed in Kyiv, with the latest arriving last night, carrying Javelin anti-tank missiles, launchers and other military hardware, in the massive muscle flexing exercise to warn Putin that he faces full US arms.

National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said that during a call on Thursday Biden warned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that there was a ‘distinct possibility’ Putin could invade his country in February. 

But Zelensky reportedly urged Biden to tone down the rhetoric about the brewing situation. 

Zelensky made the plea in a call that ‘did not go well,’ CNN reported, citing a Ukrainian source. It included a plea by Zelensky for Biden to ‘calm down the messaging’ amid complex maneuverings over the potential invasion.  

It followed pushback earlier this week from Ukraine as the U.S. told family members of American diplomats to leave. Ukrainian officials maintained the move was unnecessary with a situation that is still uncertain, even as Russia continues to move troops and equipment to positions around Ukraine.

The White House disputed the read on the call, with National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne pushing back on a report that a Ukrainian official said Biden warned Kiev could be ‘sacked’ and to ‘prepare for impact.’ 

‘This is not true,’ she tweeted. ‘President Biden said that there is a distinct possibility that the Russians could invade Ukraine in February. He has previously said this publicly & we have been warning about this for months. Reports of anything more or different than that are completely false.’

She also tweeted out a statement by Ukraine’s U.S. embassy stating ‘that some reports regarding today’s conversation of President Zelenskyy and President Biden are completely false. He also encouraged to carefully treat all information in this troubled time especially from the unconfirmed sources.’  

Horne was even more blunt in a statement to CNN. ‘Also, no one said ‘sacked.’ The only person who should be ‘sacked’ is the anonymous source who is circulating an inaccurate portrayal of this conversation,’ she said. 

The statement the White put out after the call said the U.S. and allies were ready to ‘respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine.’

The administration’s series of public statements about a potential invasion puts international pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin and could press allies to stiffen their response – although the Ukrainians are seeking to avoid statements that contribute to panic – even as they seek additional aid and arms support.   

Amid the fear of an all-out invasion that could seek to cleave Ukrainian positions, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said the U.S. response in writing to Russia’s security demands had ‘some grains of reason.’ 

Zelensky on January 19th urged the Ukrainian public not to panic, telling his countrymen: ‘Take a deep breath, calm down’ amid the talk of an imminent invasion. 

If Russia did invade in February, it would time the invasion to coincide with the coldest weeks in eastern Europe, when the ground will be frozen solid allowing tanks and artillery to maneuver easily. US officials have previously said that an unseasonably mild winter appears to have delayed Putin’s attack plans by turning the region into a quagmire.

But, amid the increasingly alarming rhetoric from the West, Zelensky and his senior staff have been calling for calm – insisting that while the risk of an attack is high, it is far from certain and unlikely to come soon.

Zelensky used his call with Biden to ask him to ‘calm down the messaging’, CNN reported, after using a public address last week to tell Ukrainians to ‘stay calm’ and avoid pulling money from banks or stockpiling supplies.

Several high-ranking Ukrainian officials have also spoken out this week in an attempt to tone down the rhetoric.


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