The Biden administration on Saturday issued strong new warnings to Russia about the sanctions it could face if it goes ahead with threats to invade Ukraine.
American officials raised the possibility of gradual shifts in decisions regarding America’s future strategic position in Europe. But they also said Russia would face devastating sanctions if it interfered in Ukraine.
The officials said the administration would be open to discussions with Russia about limiting potential future offensive missile deployments in Ukraine and placing limits on US and NATO military exercises in Eastern Europe.
However, they said Russia would be subject to severe economic sanctions if it intervened in Ukraine. In addition to direct sanctions on Russian entities, these sanctions could include significant restrictions on products exported from the United States to Russia and potentially foreign-made products under US jurisdiction.
The comments came as top US and Russian officials prepared to meet in Switzerland on Monday amid rising tensions over Ukraine.
The officials said the United States was prepared to discuss certain, limited aspects of its European security posture in those talks. But they stressed that any agreements would depend on Russia removing threats to Ukraine and that no decisions would be taken without Ukraine or NATO approval.
They said there is no chance that the United States will reduce its military presence or arsenal in Eastern Europe, as Russia has demanded.
While these comments, made to reporters on the condition of anonymity in a phone call organized by the White House, were the first to signal a willingness to make concessions on concrete issues of Ukraine, they were accompanied by threats of Russian inaction over US demands to back down. .
Another official said, in the event of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, “we – in coordination with our allies and partners – are immediately imposing exorbitant and extraordinary costs on the Russian economy, including its financial system and sectors considered critical to the Kremlin.”
In addition to sanctions on energy and consumer goods, the United States and its allies are considering banning the export to Russia of advanced electronic components, software, and related technology that uses American equipment. Officials said Russia could be added to the group of countries most restricted for export control purposes, along with Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria.
This means that Russia’s ability to acquire integrated circuits, and products containing integrated circuits, will be severely restricted, due to the global dominance of US software, technology and equipment in this sector. The impact may extend to aircraft electronics, machine tools, smartphones, game consoles, tablets and televisions.
Such sanctions could also target Russia’s important industry, including the defense and civil aviation sectors, potentially hurting Russia’s high-tech ambitions, whether in artificial intelligence or quantum computing.
US officials were careful not to issue ultimatums to Russia, while at the same time calling for a halt to threats to Ukraine. But they flatly rejected Russian demands that NATO not expand eastward and that the United States remove troops and weapons from Eastern Europe.
Despite this position, the United States and NATO have indicated their willingness to explore compromises on related issues.
“We think we can at least explore the possibility of making progress with the Russians,” one of the officials said Saturday, ahead of the US-Russia Strategic and Security Dialogue in Geneva. He added, however, that “there will be no firm commitments in these talks.”
Monday’s meeting will follow discussions between Russia and NATO members on Wednesday and with a wider European audience on Thursday.