China will deflate President Joe Biden’s boasting that his proposed sanctions against Russia will have a meaningful impact, according to a former Trump administration official.
Robert Wilkie, the secretary of veterans affairs from 2018 to January 2021 in then-President Donald Trump’s cabinet, who previously served as undersecretary of defense for personnel under then-Defense Secretary James Mattis, said economic sanctions are bound to fail, regardless of how much the administration says they will damage Russia, according to Fox News.
Meanwhile, a former Obama administration official said they could hurt Putin by hurting his people.
Edward Fishman, a former State Department official in the Obama administration, said the sanctions Biden is contemplating if Russia invades Ukraine will trickle down to harm everyday Russians, which will then put pressure on Putin, according to The New York Times.
“If the Biden administration follows through on its threat to sanction major Russian banks, that will reverberate across the entire Russian economy,” he told the Times in an article published Saturday. “It will definitely affect everyday Russians.”
“How are you going to change Putin’s calculus? By creating domestic disturbances. People will be unhappy: ‘Look what you did — all of a sudden my bank account is a fraction of what it was? Thanks, Putin,” he said.
Wilkie was doubtful the measures could work as Biden intends.
“A lot of the talk about economic sanctions is really a pie in the sky because China is now Russia’s banker,” Wilkie said. “Xi Jinping will back Putin if sanctions from the West come.”
“That’s a safety net he probably didn’t have 10, 15 years ago, and China probably wasn’t capable of buttressing the Russian state as it is now,” he said.
According to a Fox News article published Sunday, Wilkie said that if the U.S. tried to harm Russia’s economy by blocking energy sales to European countries, Russia will simply sell more energy to China.
“[China] would start buying a lot more energy from Russia,” Wilkie explained.
He said that if Germany were to block the NordStream 2 pipeline, which by virtue of supplying Germany with natural gas from Russia helps make the current delivery system through Ukraine expendable, “China would pick up the slack — they need the energy as much if not more than Europe does. That’s how I would see that playing out,” he said.
Although China and Russia were once rivals, and were so even a decade ago, what Wilkie called their “ancient animosity” has been “buried,” he said.
Russia, he said, is now the “junior partner in the arrangement” because of China’s vast economic might.
“China is willing to help anyone as long as that diminishes the United States in the eyes of the world,” Wilkie said.
Wilkie said the United States is reaping the harvest of its policy after the collapse of the Soviet Union that was more like a “victory dance’ than its efforts to integrate Germany and Japan into the West that followed World War II.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.