News Briefs

U.S., other democracies limit Russian trade benefits in reaction to war against Ukraine

By: - March 11, 2022 11:09 am

A protester holds a sign that reads “Who Will Stop Putin” in front of the Brandenburg gate on Feb. 24, 2022, in Berlin, Germany (Hannibal Hanschke/Getty Images).

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Friday announced a new round of sanctions on Russia by the United States, as well as countries within the European Union and the Group of Seven nations.

The latest round of joint economic restrictions will revoke Russia’s status as a preferred trading partner and eliminate the country’s ability to borrow from multilateral institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The United States will also move to ban the export of luxury goods to Russia, worth roughly $550 million annually, and the import of $1 billion a year in signature Russian products, like seafood, vodka and diamonds.

“We’re showing our strength, and we will not falter,” Biden said from the Roosevelt Room in the White House.

The U.S. House will vote next week on a bipartisan bill to remove Russia’s designation as a preferred trading partner, according to a statement from Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

That legislation has broad bipartisan support, but has been on ice for more than a week as Biden sought to get other major nations on board with the trade sanctions.

“Putin’s premeditated, unprovoked war is an attack on the Ukrainian people and an attack on democracy — and the House remains steadfast in our commitment to partnering with President Biden and our allies to level swift, severe punishment and stand with the Ukrainian people,” Pelosi, a California Democrat, said in a statement.

Biden said Friday that Russia holding most favored nation status, referred to as permanent normal trade relations with the U.S., “means that two countries have agreed to trade with each other under the best possible terms — low tariffs, few barriers to trade and the highest possible imports allowed.”

“Revoking PNTR for Russia is going to make it harder for Russia to do business with the United States,” Biden continued. “And doing it in unison with other nations that make up half of the global economy will be another crushing blow to the Russian economy.”

Countries within the G7 — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States — will also step up “pressure on corrupt Russian billionaires” by adding new names to the list of people they are targeting with sanctions, Biden said.

And the allied nations will increase coordination of already sanctioned Russian oligarchs to “target and capture their ill-begotten gains.”

At the end of his remarks, Biden answered one press question about whether the U.S. would have a military response if Russian President Vladimir Putin were to launch a chemical weapons attack on Ukraine.

“I’m not going to speak about the intelligence, but Russia would pay a severe price if they used chemical weapons,” Biden said.

Biden’s announcement came just moments after he spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy “to underscore his support for the Ukrainian people as they continue to defend their country against Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified attack,” according to a White House readout.

Biden also told Zelenskyy about the latest round of sanctions.

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Jennifer Shutt
Jennifer Shutt

Jennifer covers the nation’s capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom. Her coverage areas include congressional policy, politics and legal challenges with a focus on health care, unemployment, housing and aid to families.