Vice President Kamala Harris claimed on Sunday that sanctions that the Biden administration is considering imposing on Russia if it invades Ukraine, which critics have said amount to little more than a slap on the wrist, could deter Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite claiming on Saturday that Putin has already “made his decision.”

“If you believe Putin has made up his mind, what leverage do you really have?” a reporter asked. “Why not put those sanctions in place now?”

“The purpose of the sanctions has always been and continues to be deterrence. But let’s also recognize the unique nature of the sanctions that we have outlined,” Harris claimed. “These are some of the greatest sanctions, if not the strongest, that we’ve ever issued. As I articulated yesterday, it is directed at institutions — in particular, financial institutions — and individuals, and it will exact absolute harm for the Russian economy and their government.”

“But if Putin has made up his mind, do you feel that this threat that has been looming is really going to deter him?” the reporter pressed.

“Absolut- — we strongly believe — and remember also that the sanctions are a product not only of our perspective as the United States, but a shared perspective among our allies,” Harris claimed. “And the allied relationship is such that we have agreed that the deterrence effect of these sanctions is still a meaningful one, especially because — remember, also — we still sincerely hope that there is a diplomatic path out of this moment. And within the context then of the fact that that window is still opening, altho- — open, although it is absolutely narrowing — but within the context of a diplomatic path still being open, the deterrence effect, we believe, has merit.”



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