Berkeley foreign policy expert weighs in on Russia sanctions

President Biden announced a new round of sanctions on Thursday, targeting Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

"America stands up to bullies," said President Biden. "This is going to impose severe costs on the Russian economy, both immediately and over time."

But Russian foreign policy expert, Steven Fish, says he's worried that the sanctions may not be enough to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"It has some teeth. We have to go further though," said Steven Fish, a political science professor at UC Berkeley.

The US and Europe are stopping short of stripping Russia of its access to the Swift payment system, a system that allows money to be transferred from bank to bank around the globe.

"If you’re excluded from Swift, it’s very hard for businesses to operate and for banks to move money. That could potentially cause a financial panic in Russia," said Fish.

Swift says imposing the sanction would require some economic sacrifices on the part of the US and Western nations, including higher gas prices.  

"What Putin is counting on is that we are so soft, that we’re not willing to sacrifice anything in the way of material discomfort," said Fish.  

Biden’s new sanctions follow a virtual meeting of the G-7. The US is imposing a block on the assets of large Russian banks, and adding the names of Russian oligarchs to the list.

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"We will limit Russia's ability to do business in dollars, Euros, pounds and yen, to be part of the global economy," said Biden.  

"We have to go further though. The fact is that Putin’s oligarchs and his elite, park their money in British banks and real estate, in American real estate," said Fish.

Controls on US exports to Russia are also going into effect, with the hope of placing a squeeze on the Russia's ability to access US semiconductors and other hi-tech products for its military and key industries.

"We're going to pare their ability to compete in the hi-tech 21st century economy," said Biden. 

"There are alternative routes he’s planned for, and there are alternative routes for him to get many of the materials he needs," said Fish.

Meantime, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, took to social media on Wednesday, urging the US and the West to impose further sanctions, including the disconnection of Russia from SWIFT, and the introduction of a no-fly zone over Ukraine.