May 20, 2022
As the May 12 front-page article “Oil sales remain Russia’s lifeline” chronicled, Russia’s economy and war in Ukraine are being fueled by its booming energy sector. Though the United States banned Russian energy imports in March, U.S. banks can still process Russian energy transactions to other countries. This major loophole in our sanctions is enabling Russia’s energy industry to flourish.
I introduced the No Energy Revenues for Russian Hostilities Act to end this loophole. My bill creates a carrot-and-stick approach to our sanctions. The legislation imposes a ban on all energy transactions flowing through the U.S. financial system on behalf of sanctioned Russian banks, unless the treasury secretary allows the transaction to go through. If the secretary grants a waiver, funds from the transaction will be placed in an escrow account. The United States could hold these funds as leverage to incentivize Russia to end the war in Ukraine. This is a blueprint our allies in Europe could adopt as well to strike an immediate blow to Russian President Vladmir Putin’s regime.
In a recent House Financial Services Committee hearing, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said my bill was “an idea worth exploring.” President Biden initially promised the full weight of U.S. sanctions in response to Russia’s brutal and illegal war in Ukraine. Now is the time to pass my bill to help deliver on that promise and cut off the bankroll for Mr. Putin’s war machine.
Andy Barr, Washington
The writer, a Republican, represents Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District in the House, where he serves on the Financial Services Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee.
This piece appeared in the Washington Post on Friday, May 20, 2022.