Biden announces harsh sanctions on Russia for Ukraine invasion

President Joe Biden is striking Russia where it hurts — but will it be enough?

On Thursday, the president announced sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, in addition to “new limitations on what can be exported to Russia.”

“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences,” Biden said during a White House press briefing.

The sanctions, the president said, were “going to impose severe costs on the Russian economy, both immediately and over time.”

The new measures would affect Russia’s largest banks and oligarchs close to Putin, among other measures.

“As I said on Tuesday, these are people who personally gain from the Kremlin’s policies and they should share in the pain. We will keep up this drumbeat of those designations against corrupt billionaires in the days ahead,” Biden said.

In addition, Biden extended sanctions on raising capital from U.S. or European investors to Russian state-owned corporations. Earlier in the week, Biden had placed similar sanctions on the Russian government, cutting off a critical mechanism for Moscow to finance its debt.

However, Biden acknowledged that the sanctions would take time to work, if they worked at all.

“It’s going to take time,” Biden said. “We have to show resolve so he knows what is coming. And so the people of Russia know what he’s brought on them. That’s what this is all about.”

In addition, Biden didn’t impose sanctions in three critical areas.

First, there were no sanctions on Putin himself. Biden had recently floated the idea, and during the press conference, he insisted the threat wasn’t a “bluff” and that “it’s on the table.” However, he didn’t answer a reporter who asked the president why he didn’t sanction Putin himself.

Second, Biden didn’t disconnect Russia from the international SWIFT banking system, a secure messaging platform that facilitates the transfer of funds.

NBC News described cutting Russia off from SWIFT as “one of the toughest financial steps they could take, damaging Russia’s economy immediately and in the long term. The move could cut Russia off from most international financial transactions, including profits from oil and gas production, which account for more than 40 percent of the country’s revenue.”

In 2014, during the invasion of Crimea, cutting Russia off from SWIFT had also been proposed as a sanction. However, Putin called the idea tantamount to a declaration of war and Western allies decided not to proceed with it.

Finally, the president declined to put sanctions on Russian energy exports.

“In our sanctions package, we specifically designed to allow energy payments to continue,” Biden said, noting that the administration was “closely monitoring energy supplies for any disruption” and that it was “actively working with countries around the world to elevate [sic] a collective release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves of major energy-consuming countries.”

In case it wasn’t clear enough that Biden was refusing to cut off Russia’s most profitable export because of his inflation troubles at home, Biden said the quiet part out loud: “American oil and gas companies should not — should not exploit this moment to hike their prices to raise profits,” the president said in his prepared remarks