Fox News White House Correspondent Jacqui Heinrich challenged Press Secretary Jen Psaki on President Joe Biden’s apparent unwillingness to impose sanctions on Russia.

Heinrich asked why, despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s continued posturing along Russia’s border with Ukraine and intelligence suggesting an imminent attack, the Biden Administration was still holding back on the threatened sanctions that were supposedly being used as a “deterrent.”

“You guys have attributed this cyberattack to Russia and you’re warning that the prospect of war — or peace, rather, is pretty dim. So, at what point do you breakaway from the strategy, say it’s not working and do something else, imposing these sanctions now?” Heinrich asked, noting that the proposed sanctions avoided specific avenues in an effort to minimize collateral damage to other countries.

Psaki pushed back, saying that the Biden administration viewed the proposed sanctions as deterrents and believed the leverage came from threatening them rather than imposing them.

“If you put all of the sanctions in place now, what is stopping them from invading?” Psaki asked.

“Are they working?” Heinrich asked.

“Well … I think that’s our assessment from the national security team and, you know, we will continue to implement that strategy,” Psaki replied.

“You’re waiting for people to die before implementing them in that case,” Heinrich pressed again.

“I think, Jacqui, that’s in no way a fair statement or accusation, I guess, if that’s what that is. What we have done, what the President has done is unite hundreds — countries around the world on a strong package that will be crippling to the Russian economy and we have done that in a way where we have stood up for the territorial integrity of Ukraine and stood with our NATO partners and allies.”

“It has always been up to President Putin and Russia to determine which path they were going to take, that has not changed,” Psaki continued. “But that leadership on the world stage is what has led to a united front and united opposition to these actions.”

Psaki went on to say that Putin was already not achieving at least one of his reported objectives — to divide NATO and undermine the relationships among NATO countries.

CNN anchor Dana Bash pressed Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the failure to implement sanctions early on, and she got the same response Psaki offered.

As The Daily Wire reported:

“Ukrainian President Zelensky is calling for the U.S. and others, Europeans, to put sanctions in place now, to do it proactively, not reactively. He said, quote, ‘Today our partners are saying that war may start tomorrow if there was a powerful escalation on the Russian side and then there will be powerful sanctions applied.’ The question is why are you not introducing sanctions now rather than waiting until after the escalation. What’s your answer to that?” Bash asked.

“First of all, Dana, as I said, we are not waiting. We are doing a lot right now,” Blinken insisted, saying that the United States was “taking the lead” on coordinating what he said would be “massive consequences” that would be implemented if Russia were to make a move against Ukraine in the coming days or weeks.

“In Ukraine we’re providing — and last year alone provided more military assistance to Ukraine than any year in the past. We’ve been going against those inside Ukraine trying to destabilize the government. We’re taking concrete action,” Blinken continued.

“But you’re not imposing the sanctions?” Bash pressed.

“When it comes to sanctions, the purpose of those sanctions is to deter Russian aggression. So if they’re triggered now, you lose the deterrent effect,” Blinken argued, saying that the coordination between the U.S. and European countries was “designed to factor into President Putin’s calculus and deter and dissuade them from taking aggressive action even as we pursue diplomacy at the same time.” 

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