If you missed my interview with Bill Browder over the weekend, read it now. His top recommendations for dealing with Putin were to disconnect Russian banks from the SWIFT payment system and to go after Putin’s top oligarchs.
The U.S. and EU took his recommendation regarding SWIFT and cut off select Russian banks, including Russia’s central bank, from SWIFT. That was necessary but the fallout will be bad for the Russian people, who largely seem not to support Putin’s aggression. The ruble crashed overnight and lines are forming for a classic Depression-style run on the banks:
— The Intel Crab (@IntelCrab) February 27, 2022
It is indefensible that the Russian people are being made to suffer while at the same time the Biden administration has failed to target Putin’s top oligarch trustees. Both Browder and Garry Kasparov, who are steeped in this information, are saying Biden’s sanctions have thus far missed some of the most important figures. I asked Browder if he thinks Biden and the Treasury Department know who these people are, but are taking no action, or don’t know. He seems to think the latter, but thinks that will change.
Do you agree with Kasparov that the sanctions so far have ignored Putin’s worst oligarchs?
The list of oligarchs who are currently sanctioned is woefully small, and doesn’t address the lion’s share of Putin’s capital and the capital that’s been stolen from Russia. And so there’s a very long list of high-profile, well-known oligarchs from Russia who still need to be sanctioned. And I hope that as the crisis continues to unfold, the next step in the sanctions program is to add those people to the sanctions list.
Do you think the Treasury Department and President Biden don’t know who those people are, or do you think they do know who they are and just haven’t taken the steps to sanction them yet?
Well, I think everything is happening so quickly that it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that they’re not at the level of knowledge that I have, or Garry Kasparov has, because the people work on a lot of different issues, not just Russia. But many people from different governments and different lawmaking bodies have reached out to me asking for assistance in this area, so hopefully as the knowledge level increases, we will see some more of the high-value targets getting sanctioned.
As Gunnery Sergeant Hartman says in Full Metal Jacket: