Strictly Warns Russia, But Foreign Minister Blinken Says The US Is Reluctant To Impose Sanctions
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (Source: Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

JAKARTA - United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on Sunday rejected calls for immediate economic sanctions on Russia, saying they would weaken the West's ability to deter potential Russian aggression against Ukraine.

The buildup of Russian troops near its border with Ukraine has sparked fears in the West that they might strike. If Russia did carry out an attack, the West would have threatened sanctions with profound economic effects.

Meanwhile, Moscow officials have repeatedly said they have no plans to attack the country which is part of the former Soviet Union.

"When it comes to sanctions, the purpose of those sanctions is to deter Russian aggression. So, if they are triggered now, you lose the deterrent effect", Blinken told CNN in an interview, as quoted January 24.

Foreign Minister Blinken defended the government's reluctance to impose sanctions on Russia first, although Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged the US and its allies to punish Moscow now for its massive troop buildup along the Ukrainian border.

"Everything we do, including building a united front with Europe, of grave consequence for Russia, is designed to factor in President (Vladimir) Putin's calculus and to both prevent and deter them from taking aggressive action, even as we pursue diplomacy at the same time, " he continued.

In contrast to the US, Britain threatened Russia with sanctions after Britain accused the Kremlin of trying to place a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told the Washington Post last week that he supported imposing sanctions now, a view supported by US lawmakers.

"We need to act now. When it comes to fighting Russia, we need to show strength and not be in a position of appeasement", Republican Senator Joni Ernst, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told ABC News.

Democratic Senator Chris Coons, a supporter of US President Joe Biden, argued for passing a bipartisan US law to "show determination and implement some sanctions now" but said it was best to keep the strongest sanctions in reserve.

"The most powerful sanctions, the kind of sanctions that we use to bring Iran to the negotiating table, are something we have to maintain as a deterrent", he said.

Asked if US hands were tied to Ukraine because of the need for Russian support in talks to curb Iran's nuclear program, Blinken told CBS News: "Not one bit!"

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