Pence: Biden’s Russia sanctions ‘don’t go nearly far enough’

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Friday argued the Biden administration’s sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine haven’t gone “nearly far enough,” urging the White House to target Russian energy exports and cut Moscow out of the international banking system.

“The fact that we have not yet imposed the level of punitive sanctions that would be required not just to stop Putin’s advance but to get the Russians to ultimately withdraw from Ukraine is incomprehensible to me,” Pence said on Fox News.

Pence argued in favor of sanctioning “the entire financial sector,” kicking Russia out of the SWIFT international finance system and sanctioning Russian oil exports, noting it accounts for a significant portion of the country’s economic income.

President Biden on Thursday announced the administration was sanctioning two of Russia’s largest banks, imposing export controls to limit the flow of certain materials to Russia and targeting Russian oligarchs with sanctions to freeze their assets.

Those sanctions built on ones announced Tuesday, which targeted Russian financial institutions and an initial list of oligarchs who officials say benefit from the Kremlin’s operations.

Biden on Thursday said removing Russia from SWIFT was not necessarily off the table but that some European allies were not comfortable with the move. And the White House, weary of a ripple effect that could upset global markets and spike prices domestically, has thus far avoided targeting the Russian energy industry with sanctions.

“We’ve intentionally scoped our sanctions to deliver severe impact on the Russian economy while minimizing the cost to the U.S., as well as our allies and partners,” deputy national security adviser Daleep Singh told reporters on Thursday. “To be clear: Our sanctions are not designed to cause any disruption to the current flow of energy from Russia to the world.”

Pence called Singh’s quote “a line that will live in infamy from the press podium at the White House.”

“People are dying right now in Ukraine,” Pence said. “And here you have the Biden administration nickel and diming our way forward when we ought to be putting punitive sanctions in the immediate moment … and we ought to be sanctioning the primary source of revenue for Russia, which is their energy and oil exports.”

Pence was critical of what he called Biden’s “war on energy,” and he suggested Biden reauthorize construction on the Keystone XL pipeline, which Biden blocked at the start of his presidency, and approve leases in the U.S. for energy production.

The White House on Thursday noted Keystone XL is not flowing and would not make an immediate difference in the energy market. Press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden has been working with global oil suppliers to ensure there is enough supply to limit the impact on the U.S. and blunt reliance on Russian exports. 

Russia invaded Ukraine in the early hours of Thursday local time, and it has advanced toward the capital of Kyiv in the nearly 48 hours since the initial attacks. U.S. defense officials have warned Russia likely intends to decapitate the Ukrainian government and replace it with pro-Russian officials.

The U.S. and its allies have imposed sanctions on Russia, and NATO announced Friday that members intended to provide additional defense systems and weapons to Ukraine, as well as sending rapid response troops to allies near Russia and Ukraine.

Tags Jen Psaki Joe Biden Mike Pence Russian invasion of Ukraine Russian sanctions

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