Officials declined to say whether the United States was prepared to cut Russia off from the SWIFT system, which performs global financial transactions between more than 1,100 banks in 200 countries. But European officials say they have discussed the possibility – something most major European powers had refused to consider until recently, fearing Russia would respond by trying to cut off the flow of gas and oil in the winter. even briefly.
The SWIFT cutoff has been used against Iran with some success. But Cynthia Roberts, professor of political science at Hunter College, noted that Russia had learned a lot about “protecting against global sanctions,” and she expressed doubt that the country would suffer as much as US officials claim if it did. was disconnected from SWIFT.
“They would definitely take a big hit,” she said at a seminar last week hosted by the Center for the National Interest. But she noted that Russia has accumulated hundreds of billions of gold and dollar reserves and the Bank of China has joined Russia’s domestic version of SWIFT. This raises the possibility that Russia and China, as part of their expanding partnership, will join forces to help Moscow evade Western action.
The bottom line, she said, is that “sanctions have a very poor enforcement record.”
The tech sanctions would target some of Mr Putin’s favorite industries, particularly aerospace and arms, which are major revenue producers for the Russian government. The focus would be on Russian-built fighter jets, anti-aircraft systems, anti-satellite systems, space systems and emerging technologies where Russia hopes to make gains, such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing.
Similar export controls have been surprisingly effective against China’s main cellphone producer, Huawei, which for some time was one of the world’s leading smartphone suppliers. That part of her business has all but collapsed over the past year because she can’t get advanced chips. But the Russian economy bears little resemblance to China’s, and it’s still unclear whether it’s so vulnerable to tech embargoes.
The options being considered go far beyond simply banning the sale of computer chips. As a further step, US officials say, the Commerce Department could issue a ruling that essentially bans the export of any consumer goods to Russia – from cellphones and laptops to refrigerators and washing machines – containing products from American made or American designed. electronic. This would apply not only to American manufacturers, but also to European, South Korean and foreign manufacturers who use American chips or software.
Unlike China, Russia doesn’t manufacture many of these products – and the effects on consumers could be significant.