U.S. steps up trade pressure in Europe in response to Russia, China


By Gavin Bade, POLITICO



... Europe is playing the venue for this week’s global trade tensions, as commerce remains Washington’s preferred cudgel against aggression from its main global rivals Russia and China.


The U.S. is threatening financial and technology sanctions as primary responses to any potential Russian invasion of Ukraine, the New York Times reported over the weekend. A U.S. delegation led by Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman arrived in Geneva on Sunday night for talks with the Russians aimed at heading off military confrontation.


“We’ve been clear with Russia about what it will face if it continues on this path, including economic measures that we haven’t used before — massive consequences,” said Secretary of State Tony Blinken on Friday.


Those sanctions could include cutting Russia off from the global financial transactions system known as SWIFT, the Times reported, along with limiting shipments of semiconductors and other electronics to Russia’s defense and aerospace industries.


Even more aggressive steps have also been considered — like prohibiting Russia from importing any electronics that contain American chips, even if they are from non-U.S. companies. The U.S. imposed a similar ban on Chinese telecom giant Huawei in 2020, severely limiting its global access to critical tech components. But imposing such a ban on an entire economy would be a significant escalation with huge consequences for Russian consumers, who could be cut off from a wide variety of electronics that use American components.


A senior administration official did not deny those options are on the table in a call with reporters on Saturday, but shied away from detailing them further in public.


“All of these things are on the table, and we're not trying to hide from them,” the official said...