russia "sanctions" appear to be just for waving around

Portrait of Angry Businessman in Grey Suit and Glasses, Disappointed with  Bad Report, Holding Documents and Scolding Stock Photo - Image of employee,  modern: 203394906

like so much emanating from the US government of late, this current round of sanctions looks like performative cargo cultism. it has the outward appearance and bluster of “doing something.” it is certainly “press release optimized.” but when you read them closely, it rapidly becomes apparent than this is a movie set, not an old western town.

this, once more, causes me to wonder: “at whom are these sanctions™ aimed?” because it looks less and less like it’s the russians.

you can read them HERE.

this is some pretty tough talk. unprecedented. expansive. severe costs. maximize consequences. and if you stop reading here (as most will) this looks pretty serious and seems to imply purpose and resolve.

but let’s dig a little deeper: (boldface mine)

“Treasury is taking serious and unprecedented action to deliver swift and severe consequences to the Kremlin and significantly impair their ability to use the Russian economy and financial system to further their malign activity,” said Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen. “Our actions, taken in coordination with partners and allies, will degrade Russia’s ability to project power and threaten the peace and stability of Europe.

so here is the goal.

but already, we see the waffling start:

The United States consulted closely with partners to tailor the economic costs of these actions to weigh most heavily on the Government of the Russian Federation (GoR) and its economy while mitigating impacts to America and its allies.

because, let’s face it, the EU and germany in particular is massively dependent on russian energy. this is the big hard currency earner. over 50% of german coal and gas comes from russia. more than 1/3 of their oil does. the germans desperately need it and the russians will want to get paid. so a whole pile of exceptions are added as “general licenses.”

you could drive an entire division of tanks through these loopholes. the sanctions™ are starting to look an awful lot like the science™. it’s the venn intersection of “narrative support” and “functionally useless.”

so, we’re going to throttle the russian banks, well, at least in 30 days we will (see below), but not for agricultural or medical commodities, energy, derivative contracts (the manner in which most energy, materials, and ag is sold) certain debt or equity (and lord knows what that could mean), and the winding down of existing transactions (which will include months and possibly years of forward sales on commodities etc.)

Increase sales by plugging the holes in your opportunity bucket - The  Business Journals

the holes here are so vast that even calling this a “sieve” is likely generous. the details appear carefully crafted to give back nearly everything of importance that the headlines so boldly claimed to take.

and hey, take your time setting up for it. no hurry.

Correspondent and Payable-Through Account Sanctions on Sberbank

Today Treasury is imposing correspondent and payable-through account sanctions on Sberbank. Sberbank is uniquely important to the Russian economy, holding about a third of all bank assets in Russia. Sberbank is the largest financial institution in Russia and is majority-owned by the GoR. It holds the largest market share of savings deposits in the country, is the main creditor of the Russian economy, and is deemed by the GoR to be a systemically important financial institution. Within 30 days, OFAC is requiring all U.S. financial institutions to close any Sberbank correspondent or payable-through accounts and to reject any future transactions involving Sberbank or its foreign financial institution subsidiaries. Payments that Sberbank attempts to process in U.S. dollars for its clients — with examples ranging from to technology to transportation — will be disrupted and rejected once the payment hits a U.S. financial

you guys getting this? they have 30 days to wind down accounts and stop payment flow.

also notably absent is any mention whatsoever of the SWIFT system. this is because they did not lock russia out.


this is press release and fury signifying nothing.

the US sanctions appear near totally toothless. we can target a bunch of people by name and it’s great propaganda, but does anyone really think that “russian elites” as they are termed in the release have been leaving piles of money where the US can grab it? going after their kids and extended families sounds tough, but they all get their money from the very industries that were just excluded.

at best this is the DEA grabbing 100 kilos of weed and claiming progress in the war on drugs.

it’s empty bluster and grandstanding. it’s not going to hit them where it hurts. this is, sorry to say it, an impotent tantrum.

this will be obvious to russia and to other state level actors.

it’s not going to fool them.

this is the domestic economic and social equivalent of one of those CDC mask studies with a strident headline but whose methodology would get it rejected from a 7th grade science fair.

Kabuki in Japan: What it is and How to Watch it - JRailPass

either US leadership has gone so far down the post modernist rabbithole that it can no longer tell difference between kabuki theater and geopolitical realpolitik (possible) or this theater is focused on the domestic audience, not the foreign one.

it’s to fool americans and europeans, not russians and certainly not chinese.

this is the US and the EU capitulating while claiming they are doing something. it’s a show for our people and will soon be turned into a pretext for surveilling them and an excuse for economic underperformance and inflation.

they will use it to push crony corporatist projects that will make the problem worse. this is exactly what got the EU into this mess and adding more will only further destabilize grids.

and russia cannot help but see this. they are acutely aware that killing nuclear and “going green” is what made germany so helpless. in it’s fine tradition of hapless appeasement, europe is literally threatening itself and mistaking it for threatening the regional bully. it’s really quite a show.


the west and it’s talking shops have become deeply unserious.

a UN resolution of condemnation carries about the weight of a filibuster from the catbutt indiana middle school student council. and we cannot even manage that.

and this makes it clear where other aspiring powers will line up.

“china russia bi-lateral trade will continue as normal…”

this brings me back to my question from yesterday:

what are we doing out here?

why are we embroiled in this and what benefit does this endless montage of foreign policy misstep and misapprehension get us?

the US is poorly suited to play at empire building. we should stop.

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si vis pacem, para bellum. if you want peace, prepare for war. this ancient dictum pertains today in every respect just as it did in the days of publius flavius. there are no exceptions. there is no …
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