April 15 from early American morning the President of the United States Joe Biden introduced new sanctions against the Russian Federation, which were previously reported by the American media. Restrictions were introduced not only against 16 organizations, 16 individuals and 10 diplomats, but also against the Russian national debt. In accordance with the signed decree, American banks after June 14 will be prohibited from buying bonds issued by the Central Bank of Russia, the Ministry of Finance and the NWF.
In a posting on the White House website it is said that such measures were a response to “malicious actions of Russia in international politics”, to which Washington ranked “attempts to interfere with free and fair democratic elections of the United States and its allies and partners”, “malicious cyber activity against the United States and their allies “,” extraterritorial activities against journalists and dissidents “,” undermining US national security ”
Moreover, this time the US administration did not confine itself to sanctions alone. In a subsequent letter from Biden, posted on the White House website, he declared a state of emergency in the country because of the “unusual and extraordinary” threat to national security posed by Russia.
This formulation is not accidental – it was adopted in accordance with the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) of 1977, which gives the president the right to regulate the country’s foreign trade relations after the declaration of a national state of emergency. The first to exercise this right is the President Jimmy Carter in response to the 1979 Iranian hostage-taking, it was later used to freeze or freeze assets of governments of unfriendly US countries or individuals.
In relation to Russia, a state of emergency under the Act was in fact already declared in 2014 after the start of the Ukrainian crisis. Executive Order No. 13660 is still in effect and concerns the blocking of assets of persons (citizens of both Russia and Ukraine) involved in the crisis. Also, the state of emergency was announced in 2015, 2017 and 2019 due to the risk of interference in the American elections and hostile cyber activity. These decrees extended to the entire world and concerned the freezing of assets of those responsible for such actions, as well as the blocking of technologies and services that pose a threat to the United States.
So, on the one hand, the passage about the state of emergency does not mean that an emergency is introduced across America and everyone needs to prepare to go down to the bomb shelter at the first signal. Rather, it is a legal formulation for the application of economic restrictions, which is more correctly translated as an emergency. But, on the other hand, specifically in relation to Russia, such a wording was last applied only in 2014, and the fact that the IEEPA law has now come into force is quite typical.
Official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Maria Zakharova characterized the new US sanctions with the words “twisted” and suggested that the signal from the Russian side, which was given after the conversation between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, “Went somewhere wrong.” She also promised that Russia’s response to them will be worked out in the near future.
However, as suggested international political scientist, candidate of historical sciences, leading researcher at the Center for Security Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Konstantin BlokhinOne should not be surprised at such seemingly inconsistent US actions – Biden’s proposal to hold a joint summit did not at all signal a desire to really improve relations.
– In recent days, in connection with Biden’s call, some have had the illusion that the American administration has a desire to normalize relations with Russia. But this call was misinterpreted. Biden’s goal was only to roll back Russian-American relations to a point before his scandalous interview, in which he called the Russian president a “killer.” Because after that, even a dialogue based on mutual interest, such as the extension of the START-3 agreement, would have been impossible. Therefore, Biden needed to de-escalate this relationship between the two nuclear powers.
In fact, there was not a hint of a desire on the American side to change anything. There are only hawks in Biden’s team, including himself. And now, due to the new sanctions, even the dialogue they announced is unlikely to take place. The Kremlin has already said that in the event of restrictions, Russia is unlikely to participate in the climate summit, and indeed, all this was viewed with skepticism.
Today, this skepticism has simply been justified, and Washington has vividly demonstrated its true attitude towards Moscow. It is clear that under Biden the heat of passions and the escalation of relations will reach its climax. Then they are unlikely to be able to do something similar, because the priority will shift to China.
Director of the Franklin Roosevelt Foundation for the Study of the United States, Doctor of Historical Sciences Yuri Rogulev believes that Biden’s appeal to the “state of emergency” may mean a desire to return the right to impose or lift sanctions for himself, bypassing the US Congress.
– Here we are talking not about a national state of emergency, but about the extraordinary powers of the president in the economic sphere. A national state of emergency can only be imposed in the event of a war or similar extraordinary event (for example, a federal state of emergency was introduced in the United States after 9/11 – Ed.).
Any sanctions must be based on legal grounds. But it is not entirely clear why it was necessary to introduce them on the basis of this rather long-standing law, when in the US arsenal there is a mass of other legislative acts, within the framework of which restrictions were adopted in relation to Russia, China and other countries in recent years. Suffice it to recall the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), Magnitsky and many other more recent documents.
Perhaps the fact is that Biden wants to use the law, which was not passed by the current legislators, so as not to depend on them and politically have more freedom of action.
Let me remind you that earlier sanctions in the United States were always the prerogative of the executive branch – they were introduced by the president by his own decrees, and he also canceled them. But in recent years, Congress has taken the path of stamping laws that make sanctions mandatory. And if restrictions are introduced by Congress, it is very difficult to cancel them later, as was the case with the amendment. Jackson-Vanik, which could not be canceled for several decades.
Perhaps the IEEPA law allows Biden to keep a lot of free hand and leave the prerogative of lifting or imposing sanctions to himself.