Putin shrugs off financial sanctions as ruble rebounds

Vladimir Putin’s Russia is earning more from its energy exports than it was before it invaded Ukraine, and the ruble has bounced back to its prewar value. Tell us again about those “crippling” sanctions.

Yes, President Joe Biden on Friday signed two bills expanding US financial restrictions on Russia, and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan says, “We will keep working on additional ways to deny them revenue.”

But none of it can hit that hard as long as Western Europe, utterly dependent on Russia’s oil and gas, can not stop buying it. And the war has roiled markets enough to spike prices, so Bloomberg Economics anticipates Russia will earn about $ 320 billion from energy exports this year, up more than a third from 2021.

The United States can not force Germany et al to start exploiting their own energy resources (though European voters can, and should). But America can steal Russia’s export markets, if Washington is willing to stop suppressing US energy production and start supporting it.

As National Review’s Jim Geraghty puts it, Biden could announce that the United States is aiming to “replace Russia in the world energy markets and undercut its prices. You do not need sanctions compliance if you can offer buyers a similar or better good at a lower price. ”

That will hurt Putin a heck of a lot worse than all the denunciations and sanctions the White House keeps offering instead.

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