The United States said Friday it was “willing and able” to impose sanctions on anyone supporting Russia’s “military-industrial complex,” possibly impacting Iran.
Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo, who has taken a lead on US sanctions in the administration of President Joe Biden, made the remarks as representatives of 32 countries gathered in Washington to discuss measures against Russia over the war in Ukraine.
The US has accused Iran of supplying suicide drones to Russia and Ukraine has reported several attacks by Iranian-made UAVs against infrastructure and civilian targets. Tehran has denied it has supplied any drones, but Russia and Iran remain close allies, who have fought together in Syria for seven years to save Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
During a visit to Tehran by President Vladimir Putin in July, Iran’s ruler Ali Khamenei praised the “initiative” of the Russian leader in attacking Ukraine.
The deputy secretary said Friday the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) would issue guidance making clear the US was “willing and able to sanction people, companies, or countries that provide ammunition to Russia or support Russia’s military-industrial complex.”
With Iran-Russia-trade variously reported as $2-$4 billion annually, US ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions on Tehran already threaten punitive action against any entity dealing with Iran’s financial sector. In September, the US imposed sanctions on several companies for helping or facilitating the drone transfers to Russia.
Russia is “expending munitions at an unsustainable rate,” Morgan Muir, a deputy director of national intelligence for mission integration, was due to tell Friday’s Washington gathering, Reuters reported. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, the US has sent Ukraine $16.8 billion in aid, including armored vehicles, Howitzers with 880,000 rounds, as well as Javelin anti-tank and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.
The US has followed a graduated approach to an economic blockage of Russia, seeking to win support from allies. With Opec+, led by Russia and Saudi Arabia, recently agreeing to reduce oil output, thereby exerting upward pressure on prices, the US is working international agreement to set a price cap on Russian oil exports rather than on sanctioning buyers, Adeyemo said Wednesday.
Adeyemo told Foreign Policy in an interview published October 7 that work on sanctioning Russia began back in November 2021. He said the aim was to change Russia’s behavior: “The two places that we decided to target were Russia’s revenues in order to reduce the amount of money that they would have to prop up their economy and fund their illegitimate war in Ukraine with. And the second one was going after Russia’s military-industrial complex.”
Adeyemo conceded in the interview that Russia “and any other actor” would find ways to evade sanctions, so requiring new US “targeting.” He played down the refusal of many countries to go along with US sanctions, suggesting “the US relationship with India [for example] is as close as it’s ever been.”