President Biden, speaking at a press conference at NATO headquarters Thursday, fired back at a reporter for suggesting sanctions were meant to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The President was confronted by a reporter who stated flat-out, “Sir, deterrence didn’t work.”
He replied by indicating that was never the plan in the first place.
“Let’s get something straight,” Biden said. “You remember, if you’ve covered me from the beginning, I did not say that in fact, the sanctions would deter him. Sanctions never deter. You keep talking about that. Sanctions never deter.”
The reporter continued pressing, asking if the President believes “the actions today will have an impact on making Russia change course in Ukraine.”
“That’s not what I said. You — you — you’re playing a game with me,” Biden shot back before catching himself and ending the conversation with, “The answer is no.”
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While Biden may not have believed sanctions would deter Putin, high-ranking officials on multiple occasions certainly suggested otherwise.
Vice President Kamala Harris, in her infamous interview in which she gave a “layman’s” explanation of the Russian invasion, explained that sanctions were akin to punishing children for doing something bad so they don’t do it again or do something worse.
“So you know if you’re a parent and you tell your children to do this, the punishment is gonna be that, right?” she explained.
“And we hope that by doing that it will deter our children from doing the wrong thing, right?” Harris continued. “So that’s deterrence, so that’s where we started with the sanctions.”
How could Harris believe sanctions were meant to deter and subsequently failed, while the President thought otherwise? Are they not on the same page when it comes to a major foreign policy issue that affects Russia, Ukraine, and America?
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There are multiple mentions on the White House website of senior Administration Officials discussing how sanctions are meant to deter Vladimir Putin from either taking action or escalating the conflict.
There is literally section titled: “Background Press Call by Senior Administration Officials on Russia Ukraine Economic Deterrence Measures.”
In another briefing segment involving “a Senior Administration Official,” the effect and purpose of sanctions on Russia are discussed.
“Sanctions are meant to serve a higher purpose, which is to deter and prevent,” the official explained.
In an interview with CNN, Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said the sanctions were meant to deter Putin.
“The purpose of the sanctions, in the first instance, is to try to deter Russia from going to war,” Blinken said.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan relayed that “the President believes that sanctions are intended to deter.”
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said that “there is a deterrent effect by keeping [the sanctions] in reserve.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, though not a member of the administration, also discussed the virtue of using sanctions to try and dissuade Putin from acting.
Pelosi insisted the United States strategy was about “diplomacy” and “deterrence.”
“So if Russia doesn’t invade, it’s not that he never intended to. It’s just that the sanctions worked,” she added.
The sanctions, thus far, have not worked.
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