WASHINGTON – Western diplomats believe Joe Biden, the alleged winner of the US presidential election, will soon analyze the effectiveness of the current sanctions against Russia.
The aim is to adjust the sanctions to increase their immediate impact. As one Western diplomat in Washington put it to Voice of America, Biden’s team wants sanctions to “bite harder.” He spoke on condition of anonymity.
Other Western diplomats believe the Biden administration will try to shape a more comprehensive and coherent strategy toward Russia.
Diplomats predict more emphasis will be placed on countering Kremlin disinformation and political influence campaigns.
More emphasis is also expected to be placed on working with the Russian people to weaken the Kremlin’s information grip within the country.
European diplomats say the Biden administration is likely to urge allies to avoid expanding economic ties with Russia, which would weaken the impact of sanctions.
This suggests that the Biden administration will be just as critical of the Nord Stream 2 project as Donald Trump’s White House.
Foreign policy experts who may be invited to join the new administration have presented their views in articles and at think tank events.
Michael Carpenter, Biden’s foreign policy adviser and former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, wrote in the National Interest in 2018 that the sanctions failed to convince the Kremlin to change foreign policy.
“For sanctions against Russia to work, the United States and its allies must move away from symbolic gestures and introduce tough measures that will have a direct impact on the economy,” he wrote.
Carpenter has argued for sanctions against Russian banks and financial centers, which could eventually be extended from smaller banks to larger ones in order to put pressure on the Kremlin.
At the same time, he is convinced that sanctions should not be used in response to every alleged violation of international norms by Russia.
“The sanctions must also be reversible so that they can serve as an incentive for behavior change,” Carpenter wrote.
Victoria Nuland, who is tipped for a post in the Biden administration, also believes that the sanctions need to be reviewed.
“The sanctions by the US and its allies were painful at first, but have become lax through overuse and no longer impress the Kremlin,” she wrote in the July issue of Foreign Affairs magazine.
Nuland, who worked as an assistant secretary of state in the Barack Obama administration, said the US “should lead a campaign to intensify the struggle of democratic societies against Russia’s attempts to interfere in free elections, spread misinformation, stir up public tensions and campaign for political influence.”