Yesterday morning, March 6, 2014, by signing an executive order, Barack Obama made good on his threat to impose sanctions on Russia over the latter’s “invasion” of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.
In addition to declaring a U.S. “national emergency” due to the Ukraine crisis being an “extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” Obama’s executive order, “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine,” also “authorizes sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, or for stealing the assets of the Ukrainian people.” (The term “entity” means a “partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization.”)
Sanctions on the above-mentioned “individuals and entities” include:
- Placing blocks on all their “property and interests in property that are in the United States,” so that they “may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in”;
- “Suspend” them from “entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants”;
- Blocking them from receiving “donations” — “any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked”.
Even before Obama signed the executive order, Russia already made clear there would be consequences if the Obama administration indeed carry out the threatened sanctions.
RIA Novosti reports that on March 4, 2014, Sergei Glazyev, “an adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin,” said “the United States would be the first to suffer in the event of any sanctions regime.”
Moscow “would issue general advice to dump US government bonds in the event of Russian companies and individuals being targeted by sanctions over events in Ukraine.”
“The Americans are threatening Russia with sanctions and pulling the EU into a trade and economic war with Russia,” Glazyev said. “Most of the sanctions against Russia will bring harm to the United States itself, because as far as trade relations with the United States go, we don’t depend on them in any way.”
Glazyev noted that Russia is a creditor to the United States.
“We hold a decent amount of treasury bonds – more than $200 billion – and if the United States dares to freeze accounts of Russian businesses and citizens, we can no longer view America as a reliable partner,” he said. “We will encourage everybody to dump US Treasury bonds, get rid of dollars as an unreliable currency and leave the US market.”
According to US Treasury data, as of the end of 2013, Russian investments in US government bonds total around $139 billion out of a total of $5.8 trillion of US debt held in foreign hands.
A high-ranking Kremlin source was quick to distance his office from Glazyev’s remarks, however, insisting to RIA Novosti that they represented only Glazyev’s personal views as an academic and not as a presidential adviser.
Former deputy energy minister and lively government critic Vladimir Milov also slammed Glazyev’s remarks, saying they would put further downward pressure on the ruble, which on March 3, had sunken to a record low of 36.5 against the dollar amid fears about the possible outbreak of war. “That idiot Glazyev will keep talking until the dollar is worth 60 [rubles],” Milov wrote on his Twitter account.