Updated Jan 23, 2022 - World

Blinken: Sanctioning Russia now will undercut deterrence

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday rejected calls to impose economic sanctions on Russia, saying that doing so would diminish the United States' ability to dissuade the country from "engaging in further aggression."

Why it matters: Blinken's remarks on CBS' "Face the Nation" come as Ukraine and the West brace for the possibility of an imminent invasion, which became more likely toward the end of last year when Russia began amassing nearly 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border.

  • "When it comes to sanctions, the purpose of those sanctions is to deter Russian aggression," Blinken reiterated on CNN's "State of the Union." So, "if they're triggered now, you lose the deterrent effect."
  • He made clear, however, that if a "single additional Russian force" aggressively entered Ukraine, it would trigger a "swift, severe and united response" from the United States and Europe.

The other side: Sanctions show the Kremlin "we mean business and we will be there for Ukraine," Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said in a separate appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union."

  • "Once an invasion happens, lives are lost, you can't go back from that," she added. "So those sanctions need to be put in place now."

Of note: In an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," Blinken acknowledged that "it is certainly possible that the diplomacy the Russians are engaged in is simply going through the motions," and that it won't affect Putin's decision to invade.

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