A top US official says sanctions have ‘degraded’ Russia’s ability to wage war and undercut its ‘military-industrial complex’

February 21, 2023, 3:11 PM UTC
President Vladimir Putin speaks in his annual televised New Year's message after a ceremony during a visit to the headquarters of the Southern Military District, at an unknown location in Russia, Dec. 31, 2022.
Mikhail Klimentyev—Sputnik/Kremlin/AP

American and allied sanctions and export controls are constraining Russia’s ability to wage war on Ukraine by degrading its military, a top Treasury Department official says.

Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo says in prepared remarks that as the war on Ukraine nears the one-year mark U.S. sanctions are proving to mount military losses as intended on the Kremlin and its military machine.

Adeyemo is set to deliver the speech Tuesday at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.

The financial penalties imposed by the U.S. and its allies “have degraded Russia’s ability to replace more than 9,000 pieces of military equipment lost since the start of the war,” Adeyemo says in the prepared remarks, adding, “Russia has also lost up to 50% of its tanks.”

More than 30 countries, including the U.S., the EU nations, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Japan and others — representing more than half the world’s economy — have imposed price caps on Russian oil and diesel, instituted export controls, frozen Russian Central Bank funds and restricted access to SWIFT, the dominant system for global financial transactions.

“While we have far more to do, we are succeeding in reversing the course of Russia’s budget and undercutting its military-industrial complex,” Adeyemo says.

Adeyemo’s defense of sanctions effectiveness follows President Joe Biden’s unannounced visit to Ukraine on Monday to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy before the Friday anniversary of the Russian invasion.

“One year later, Kyiv stands,” Biden said after meeting Zelenskyy at Mariinsky Palace. “And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. The Americans stand with you, and the world stands with you.”

As the invasion enters its second year, the U.S. will intensify its efforts to boost sanctions, Adeyemo says in the prepared remarks, including cracking down on sanctions evasion and putting economic pressure on countries and firms that continue to do business with Russia.

He acknowledges recent reports that Russia’s economy is performing better than expected. This year, its economy is projected to outperform the U.K.’s, growing 0.3% while the U.K. faces a 0.6% contraction, according to the International Monetary Fund.

“While Russia’s economic data appears to be better than many expected early in the conflict,” Adeyemo says, “our actions are forcing the Kremlin to use its limited resources to prop up their economy at a time where they would rather be investing every dollar in their war machine.”

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