The United States is threatening to use sweeping export controls against key industries in Russia if it invades Ukraine, according to a senior administration official.
The Washington Post first reported the threat which broadens out the Biden administration’s options for retaliating against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
This comes at a time of high tensions between Russia and the West over Russia’s massing of tens of thousands of troops on its borders with Ukraine. Moscow has insisted it has no plans to invade.
Speaking to The Hill, the official said, “No final decisions have been made, but we would start high and stay high and maximize the pain to the Kremlin,” adding that the US is currently holding discussions with its allies on these actions.
The Biden administration is contemplating implementing the foreign direct product rule to control exports to Russia of all microelectronics designed using US software or technology or produced using US equipment, the official noted.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said the rule might target Russia’s artificial intelligence, maritime, defense, and civilian aviation sectors, adding it could also be used broadly, such as targeting consumer electronics.
The rule was employed by the Trump administration against Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, resulting in the company’s first annual revenue falling in 2021, according to The Post.
Western governments accuse Russia of planning “an invasion” of Ukraine. Moscow rejects the allegations and insists that the border deployments are defensive in nature.
President Joe Biden and his officials have threatened Russia with high economic costs if its troops cross the border.
The US has echoed Ukraine’s claims of a looming Russian “invasion” since November, though Moscow has brushed off the accusations as “fake news” while insisting on talks with the US and NATO on security guarantees in Europe instead.
Amid the intensifying crisis, the US State Department earlier this week had approved shipments of US-made missiles and other weapons from NATO allies Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to Ukraine. The weapons arrived in Kiev on Saturday.