As if the news cycle pattern is not already full enough, President Biden has just named Appeals Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court.
Russian forces reportedly are entering Kyiv, but the fog of war makes definitive assessments of the state of play risky. But, there are reports of mass casualties and the full brutality of Vladmir Putin’s “savvy” (to use TFG’s term) aggression is on display for all the world to see. It’s ugly.
What is also clear is that the anti-war protests in Russia itself are large, surprising, and perhaps contagious.
And, of course, yesterday we got the sanctions that we were told would be “swift and severe”.
They are a decidedly mixed bag.
In this morning’s Bulwark, Paul Massaro writes that this new round is designed to hurt Putin by depriving him of resources. They are also impressively multilateral.
The Russian financial sector is cut off. Many state-owned and state-influenced companies are banned from doing business with U.S.-linked entities. So are the elites around Putin. President Biden also promised that more is coming, including sanctions on “corrupt billionaires,” with the goal of degrading the Russian threat for years to come. The president declared, “Putin will be a pariah on the international stage.” The EU and other G7 partners adopted similar sanctions packages.
They do not, however, include a so-called SWIFT ban, which would have cut Russia off from the world’s financial systems. But, writes Massaro, the lack of SWIFT sanctions “matters more as a political signal than as a financial weapon since it has become a rallying cry in the defense of Ukraine. As President Biden noted in his address, full blocking of Russian financial institutions would achieve the same, or even greater, effect as a SWIFT ban.”
So far, so good.
But then we come to the massive hole in the suite of anti-Putin sanctions. And by massive, I mean huge.