Biden Pushes Back Against Idea of Sanctions as Deterrence

Biden Pushes Back Against Idea of Sanctions as Deterrence

( – Economic sanctions can be an effective deterrent against aggression by unstable world leaders. However, the world is sharply divided on the issue in the context of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. President Joe Biden’s administration initially seemed to imply sanctions were a deterrence, but it appears Biden is telling a different story.

On Thursday, March 24, President Biden answered questions from reporters at a summit for NATO leaders in Brussels, Belgium. One reporter put it to the president that sanctions had not stopped Russian President Vladimir Putin from persisting with his military efforts in Ukraine, and asked what his plan was in light of this reality. In response, Biden admonished the reporter, claiming deterrence was not the aim of sanctions and saying he had never made a claim to the contrary in front of reporters.

However, his position is in apparent contrast to previous statements from senior members of his administration. In February, Vice President Kamala Harris insisted deterrence was the motivation behind America’s decision to sanction Putin and other influential Russians. Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed this sentiment during a CNN interview before the Russian military invaded Ukraine. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan even went so far as to say, “The president believes that sanctions are intended to deter.”

So, whom do we believe? Senior Biden administration officials who have claimed sanctions are a deterrent, or the president who insists this narrative is completely false?

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