The White House is becoming frustrated with its partners in the Group of 7’s (G7) refusal to commit to its economic war against the Kremlin. After the invasion of Ukraine last year, President Joe Biden pledged to isolate Moscow and cripple the Russian economy. However, the Kremlin has found ample access to the world economy, including some of Washington’s closest allies.
El País’ María R. Sahuquillo wrote on Monday, “Russia has been able to find ways to circumvent the sanctions by importing and exporting goods via third countries.” The article continued, “The United States wants to plug these holes with a total ban on exports to Russia, but the EU believes that this approach is not viable.”
Last month, Bloomberg News reported that the White House was seeking to have its G7 allies agree to ban all exports to Russia at the organization’s summit in May. Financial Times noted a week later that the proposal was unlikely to be supported by the European Union or Japan. One unnamed official told FT, “From our perspective, it is simply not do-able.” An EU official speaking with El País said the move is not considered “sustainable.”
The new Biden administration plan would change how sanctions against Moscow are enforced. The US and its allies blacklist particular Russian products, companies and individuals, barring Americans from business transactions with the targeted entities. If adopted, the export ban will prohibit all trade with Moscow unless there is an explicit exemption.
The press for an embargo comes as Washington’s plan to isolate Moscow has largely fizzled. When the White House initially imposed sanctions on Russia last year, it believed they would devastate the country’s economy. However, leaked US military documents shared online in March highlighted doubts about the sanctions spree among officials, with some assessing that Russia will be able to continue funding operations in Ukraine for at least another year.
To weather the economic war, Moscow has found trading partners outside of the G7, such as China and India. Additionally, the Kremlin has been able to circumvent sanctions and continue trading with Europe. Last month, Trade Data Monitor found that G7 countries – the US, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the European Union – exported $66 billion to Russia during the past 14 months.
The Kyiv School of Economics alleges the $60 per barrel price cap on Russian oil has not been fully implemented, with some of Moscow’s ports exporting at more than $70 per barrel.
Still, Washington is continuing to press G7 members to implement tighter controls on trade with Russia. Last week, Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo met with Deputies of the G7 Enforcement Coordination Mechanism and pushed for stricter sanctions enforcement. However, some EU members are concerned Washington’s strategy could open debate and lead to sanctions potentially being weakened.