Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

U.S. Threats of New Sanctions against Russia Must Be Denounced

President Joe Biden is threatening new sanctions on Russia as a way for U.S. imperialism to appear strong. But such sanctions will mostly hurt Russia’s working class and risk escalating the conflict over Ukraine.

Sam Carliner

January 28, 2022
Facebook Twitter Share

Tensions continue between the United States and Russia over Ukraine. However, with Ukrainian officials now suggesting that U.S. claims of an imminent Russian invasion may not be credible, and important European powers such as France and Germany hesitant to escalate the conflict, President Joe Biden is in a tough position. He cannot look weak in how he responds to Russian troop movements along Ukraine’s border and Putin’s demands, but the actions the United States can take to portray strength are limited.

It is in this context that the Wall Street Journal reports today that Biden is threatening to sanction Russian banks, state companies, and needed imports if Putin attacks Ukraine. The Journal reports that administration officials have called the planned sanctions “unparalleled” in recent decades against Russia.

Sanctions are part of imperialism’s toolkit. For an idea of the impact U.S. sanctions could have, there is no shortage of examples. Take Cuba, where decades of economic warfare by the United States — in the form of a criminal embargo — have caused persistent shortages in food and fuel and the degradation of public infrastructure. Or one can look to Iran, where the “maximum pressure” sanctions launched by the Trump administration and continued by Biden have deprived the Iranian people of essential medical resources such as cancer care. Sanctions have also made the Covid pandemic particularly deadly for Iranians.

In fact, the United States already has sanctions on Russia. A report issued last May by the Atlantic Council, a hawkish foreign policy think tank in Washington, looked at the impact of sanctions the United States placed on Russia in 2014, the last surge in tensions over Ukraine. The report found that those sanctions have reduced Russia’s economic growth by $50 billion a year — a statistic the authors argue is proof of sanctions’ effectiveness. Of course, they make no mention of the economic toll this takes on the Russian working class, pretending that they only affect Putin, the oligarchs, and others in charge of Russia’s policies.

Sanctions are often sold to the public as a “diplomatic” solution to conflicts, which obscures the fact that they primarily starve and deprive civilians of basic needs. Often, the displacement and instability they create is touted as helping “opposition” or “democratic” forces in the targeted country. 

All the posturing by the United States, NATO, and Putin over Ukraine is bringing nothing but strife to the Ukrainian people. It must end immediately. Sanctions will not do this. They are an imperialist tool that promises only to extend the hardships Ukrainians are facing to the Russian working class. At worst, they will escalate the conflict. 

No sanctions!

Facebook Twitter Share

Sam Carliner

Sam Carliner is a socialist with a background in journalism. He mainly writes for Left Voice about US imperialism. He also tweets about imperialism as @saminthecan.

United States

Biden, Congress, and the Squad Just Voted to Block a Rail Strike. Workers Should be the Ones Who Decide

The Biden administration called on Congress to undemocratically impose a contract on rail workers across the country and avert a nationwide rail strike. The deal has already passed the House with unanimous support from Democrats. This latest maneuver by a “proud pro-labor President” shows that there is no such thing: the state acts in favor of the bosses to protect their profits.

Madeleine Freeman

November 30, 2022
The U.S. Congress building

Senate Votes to Overturn Covid-19 National Emergency

Just over a week after the “election to save democracy,” Senate Democrats voted with Republicans to end the Covid-19 Emergency Declaration three years after it was invoked. Both parties show us time and time again that the working class needs its own party.

Mike Pappas

November 29, 2022
President Biden greets John Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, after arriving Thursday at Pittsburgh International Airport

Jacobin Is Wrong: The Midterms Were Not a Socialist Wave

The 2022 midterms were not a “red wave” of socialism — we don’t win by shoehorning capitalist politicians into a leftist mold.

Otto Fors

November 20, 2022

A Weakened Trump Poses as an Alternative for the Working Class in Third Bid for President

Speaking at Mar-a-Lago a week after the failed “red wave” of the midterms, Trump made an appeal to all those spurned by neoliberalism and feeling the effects of inflation to rally behind his xenophobic, transphobic, and pro-capitalist agenda.

Madeleine Freeman

November 16, 2022


The First Overdose Prevention Centers in US History Vote to Unionize

Workers at the nation’s first overdose prevention centers submitted their demand for voluntary union recognition. The workers are demanding better benefits and healthcare, along with greater control over workplace decisions. The harm reduction sector is joining the labor movement.

Left Voice

December 8, 2022

The Roots of the Rebellion at Foxconn

Jenny Chan is a researcher and professor at the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong. She is co-author of the book Dying for an iPhone. She spoke with La Izquerda Diario about the causes of the rebellion by workers at the Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou, China.

Josefina L. Martínez

December 7, 2022
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa in a suit

“Farmgate” Threatens the Very Foundations of Capitalist Stability in South Africa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa faces an impeachment vote Tuesday. More than a simple case of corruption, it’s a political crisis of the ruling party and of capitalist stability in the country.

Sam Carliner

December 5, 2022

Understanding the Carnage at Colorado Springs

The heinous violence displayed in Colorado Springs is a stark reminder of the menacing, lethal threat that today’s determined far right continues to pose to trans and queer people, and anyone living outside capitalism’s imposed sexual and gender boundaries.

Keegan O'Brien

December 4, 2022