On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden announced a ban on Russian oil, natural gas and coal imports to the US in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Victoria Nuland, the US State Department undersecretary for Political Affairs, reacted to the ban on CNN, saying, “we need to remember that the villain here is President Putin and President Zelensky is right, every drop of Russian oil that is consumed, is another drop of Ukrainian blood spilled. “
Speaking live with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Nuland noted that at this point in the conflict, the purpose of sanctions is to directly impact the Russian president. The official said that 70% of Russian oil “is now offline” as a result of sanctions and bans like the one that Biden announced today.
“Now we have to punish him. And unfortunately, we have to make the Russian people, too, also feel what he has done to global peace and security,” Nuland told Tapper. “So that is the first purpose is to ensure that over the long-term, the medium-term, ideally over the short-term, that this is a strategic loss for President Putin.”
Should the sanctions force Putin into altering his offensive, Nuland said the US would respond in kind.
“If in fact, he gets out of Ukraine, if in fact, he gives back what he has stolen and makes reparations, obviously, we will work with the Ukrainians on lifting of sanctions,” she said. “I want to live for that happy day.”
Nuland offered Tapper and his viewers a glimpse into where Russia is currently at in terms of the invasion into Ukraine, a view that does not reflect positively on Putin.
“He is losing tanks and aircraft. He has thousands of soldiers dying, who will go home in body bags to Russians. He has citizens now who have zero access to a free press or ATMs or western technology. The pressure on him is growing. And sooner or later, he will wake up or the Russian people will wake up, “she said.
“Unfortunately, it could be a long and difficult grind to get from here to there and I think all of us owe a huge debt to the Ukrainian people. Because it is they who are sacrificing, not just for their democracy but for all of our democracies, “she added.
Nuland spoke today at a US Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She told lawmakers she believes the war will end “when Putin realizes that this adventure has put his own leadership standing at risk, with his own military, with his own people, that he is hemorrhaging the lives of the people of Russia, the army of Russia and their future to his own vain ambition. “
CNN’s Jennifer Hansler and Kyle Atwood contributed reporting to this post.
Check out Victoria Nuland’s full interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper: