The financial markets usually are pretty good at recognizing what’s going on, and it didn’t take long for them to figure out (with a sharp rebound) that Joe Biden has failed to go “after the heart of the Kremlin’s power.”
No Sharing the Wealth
Unlike Putin’s cronies, the general Russian population sees few rewards, reports the WSJ.
The system has made the Russian leader and his friends extremely rich. The living standards of average Russians are less important to Mr. Putin than protecting his coterie. These elites maintain their power so long as they support the regime.
Much of that wealth is stored abroad. Oligarchs have bought up mansions, sports teams and businesses outside Russia while sending their children to study and party abroad. Many Western capitals looked the other way as money poured in and financiers, accountants, lawyers and real-estate agents also cashed in. Yet on Thursday the U.S. Treasury sanctioned only seven more Russians: three sons of Mr. Putin’s cronies, a wife, and three bankers.
Serious sanctions would bar every Russian connected to the regime from entering the U.S., Europe and the U.K., and seize their foreign holdings. The restrictions should extend to every wife, child, mistress, cousin, uncle, nephew and close friend they have. Universities won’t like it, but students related to an oligarch should have their visas revoked.
What about Westerners who have spent much of their adult lives on the Russian payroll? At the least, the editorial board at the WSJ would have these enablers marginalized from public life:
- Roman Abramovich, a well-known figure with significant assets in the West. He is best known as the owner of Chelsea Football Club in the English Premier League, and his deep ties to the U.K. are a reminder of London’s role as a sanctuary for Russian assets. Mr. Abramovich hasn’t been sanctioned, and he has denied that he has done anything to warrant them.
- Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder was nominated to join the board of Russia’s Gazprom this month and already is chairman of Rosneft.
- Former French Prime Minister François Fillon, who last year joined the board of Russian petrochemicals firm Sibur, tweeted that NATO expansion is to blame for the invasion.
Will the Press Continue to Enable Joe Biden
Mr. Biden ducked a question at his Thursday press conference about why the U.S. hasn’t sanctioned Mr. Putin personally but said it’s still possible. The press should keep asking. The only sanctions that will really get Mr. Putin’s attention are those that threaten his control of Russia and the loyalty of his cronies.
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