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Opinion: Are US sanctions strong enough without Russian ban from SWIFT financial system?


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Thirty years ago in Moscow the Soviet Union crumbled and everyone watched on CNN. 

One question was still undecided. This was what would happen to the “Near Abroad” — Russians who were now separated from Russia in independent republics.

President Boris Yeltsin promised that they would have the Russian republic or Federation to look after their interests, language and culture.

President Vladimir Putin said nothing about this but rather denounced the Communist Soviet Union as having abandoned Russia.

Ukraine’s existence was part of that end of the Soviet Union,  which Putin declares was a grave mistake.

I was in Moscow pursuing a lease to the second largest copper deposit in the world and at the celebration of the birth of the Russian Federation as the prime power in the CIS, or Community of Independent States.  

The ruling Ukraine Communist Party vanished as a remnant of the Soviet Union.

A young missile commander at my side, over vodka on the roof of a state skyscraper (the tallest building), pointed to the West and told me no Russian would ever look in that direction and see NATO.

So, Russia is in Ukraine in a “special military operation” that seeks to correct that “mistake” in which the “Near Abroad” are no longer “Near” nor “Abroad,” but in Russia.  

But is there more, as most of the TV media proclaim?

Is there in the sanctions of the United States a deterrent against “more,” or a roll-back of Russia? 

President Joe Biden's sanctions failed to mount the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) against Russia because the SWIFT board opposed it.  

SWIFT is a Belgian entity that executes fiscal transactions between banks around the world. If “SWIFT” had been included as a sanction, Russia's financial participation in the world would have been eliminated.   

This, no doubt, would allow China to create a Chinese-Russian “SWIFT” which would compete with the original “SWIFT” as a “North Atlantic” entity.  

This fulfills the long-term China-Russia Alliance's basic strategic objective: eliminate the United States as a single world rule-making power.

President Biden will be out of office when Russia and China are making international “rules.” His sanctions will work only for Poland as the front-line of NATO. However, will Ukraine resist as a people or will it be something similar to Kazakhstan? This will be a test of Slavic “blood” against Slavic “blood.”

Another weakness in the new U.S. sanctions is in oil through OPEC-Russia by lowering its export quota.

The impact of the sanctions in oil and natural gas is primarily in the financial markets in commodities. Permian Basin WTI is sustained at high prices until a new supply source appears and dissolves the speculation on supply shortage.  

This source is Iran, with the United States aggressively pushing for a second Nuclear treaty for which it will end export sanctions against Iran.   

Within 16 months Iranian oil will begin to challenge the Permian Basin production and return WTI crude to a high $50 dollar price range. 

And China, with the historic connection of Russia, will have deepened a present day special relation to Iran having assured its survival against U.S. sanctions against the exports of its oil.

Dr. Daniel Fine is an independent analyst and a contributor to the Farmington Daily Times' coverage of events affecting state, national and world oil markets.