White House will crack down on Russian attempts to evade sanctions, Biden security advisor says

Jake Sullivan, White House national security adviser, speaks during an interview at an Economic Club of Washington event in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, April 14, 2022.
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — National security adviser Jake Sullivan said Thursday that the Biden administration is focused on ensuring Russia isn’t able to evade punishing global sanctions for its war in Ukraine.

Sullivan, speaking at the Economic Club in Washington, D.C., said the administration is now focusing on enforcing the sanctions already levied against Russia, its officials and elites.

“I mean what we have done is unprecedented in terms of a major economy to take this set of steps across financial sanctions, investment bans, the export controls,” Sullivan said when asked whether the U.S. has exhausted the penalties it can impose against Russia. “But where our focus will be in the course of the coming days is on evasion,” he added.

“As Russia tries to adjust to the fact that it’s under this massive economic pressure, what steps can they try to evade our sanctions and how do we crack down on that?”

President Joe Biden’s top national security adviser added that he expects the White House to announce “in the next week or two” certain targets that are trying to facilitate Russia’s sanction evasion.

In the weeks since Russia’s invasion of its ex-Soviet neighbor, Washington and its allies have imposed rounds of coordinated sanctions vaulting Russia past Iran and North Korea as the world’s most-sanctioned country.

Sullivan reiterated that the U.S. has deep concerns about China’s alignment with Russia and the possibility that the world’s second-largest economy may attempt to help Moscow blunt sanctions.

Sullivan said that the U.S. has not yet observed Beijing providing military assistance to Moscow for its fight in Ukraine.

“It’s something that we constantly monitor and of course we don’t have complete visibility all the time,” Sullivan said. “Russia and China have an economic relationship, and there is continuing economic intercourse between Russia and China. But have we seen a systematic effort to undermine, weaken or defend sanctions at this point? We have not.”

Sophie Tremblay

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