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Home World U.S. Considers ‘Potent’ Export Controls Against Russia Amid Ukraine Tensions

U.S. Considers ‘Potent’ Export Controls Against Russia Amid Ukraine Tensions

WASHINGTON—The U.S. is prepared to impose sanctions and export controls on critical sectors of the Russian economy if Russian President Vladimir Putin invades Ukraine, U.S. officials said.

“The export control options we’re considering alongside our allies and partners, would hit Putin’s strategic ambitions to industrialize his economy quite hard, and it would impair areas that are of importance to him, whether it’s in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, or defense or aerospace or other key sectors,” a senior administration official said.

Administration officials declined to provide many specifics on the kinds of sanctions it would impose, but said the moves would exacerbate the selloff in Russian markets, raise the country’s cost of borrowing and hurt the value of Russia’s currency.

White House officials are preparing for a Russian incursion into Ukraine after Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops along the country’s borders. In addition to sanctions, the U.S. said it would reinforce NATO forces in Eastern Europe. On Monday, the Pentagon announced it was putting up to 8,500 troops on standby for possible deployment to the region.

President Biden said at a news conference that the U.S. is ready to unleash sanctions against Russia if President Vladimir Putin makes a move against Ukraine. Biden also laid out a possible diplomatic resolution. Photo: Susan Walsh/Associated Press (Video from 1/19/22)

U.S. officials said the consensus on prospective sanctions among the U.S. and European nations was building, in part due to assurances the U.S. is working to secure energy supplies should Mr. Putin invade Ukraine. U.S. officials said they are looking for energy stockpiles in North Africa, the Middle East, Asia and inside the U.S.

“Correspondingly, we’re just in discussions with major natural gas producers around the globe, to understand their capacity and willingness to temporarily surge natural gas output and to allocate these volumes to European buyers,” a senior official said.

The U.S. announcement came a day after President Biden discussed the Ukraine crisis with several European leaders. The leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, discussed their coordination of sanctions measures and the situation in Ukraine.

The leaders agreed that no major sanctions options should be taken off the table, a European Union official said, even if some would likely be used only as a last resort. Those would include measures that could cause collateral economic harm to Western countries, like cutting Russia out of the SWIFT financial network that enables banks to settle transactions across the world, and embargoes on energy imports from Russia.

“The leaders agreed that, should a further Russian incursion into Ukraine happen, allies must enact swift retributive responses including an unprecedented package of sanctions,” Mr. Johnson’s office said in a statement after the call. “They resolved to continue coordinating closely on any such response.”

Write to Laurence Norman at laurence.norman@wsj.com

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