The US government believes they still “retain the capacity” to impose further non-military costs on Russia, like additional sanctions, over the Kremlin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Air Force One on Friday.
“We believe that we still retain the capacity to impose additional costs on Russia that are not strictly military costs,” Sullivan said. “We believe that, of course, there are additional measures to tighten the screws on sanctions and we’ll be constantly reviewing those.”
“We do think the sanctions will increasingly have the effect of pressuring and constraining the Russian economy, the Russian war machine in ways that will shape their thinking as they go forward. And that will undermine their capacity to play an aggressive role in the world, as they have done over the course of the past many years,” he added.
Sullivan also stressed the importance of enforcing the already announced sanctions.
“This point about enforcement though, I think is really central because in the period ahead, Russia’s main focus from an economic perspective is going to be to figure out how they can get around over or under the sanctions that have been imposed. And blocking off those pathways is going to be vital to producing the kinds of cost imposition effects and vital to shaping the thinking in the Kremlin,” Sullivan said.
When asked about concerns over sanctions backfiring and causing the Russian population to solidify behind Russian President Vladimir Putin, Sullivan acknowledged that it’s a narrative the Russian government will try to push, but the US believes the Russian people will be able to “connect the dots.”
“At the end of the day, the Russian people are going to ask the more fundamental question of why this happened and how this happened and we believe that at the end of the day they will be able to connect the dots,” Sullivan said.
When asked about whether the US is prepared to use secondary sanctions, Sullivan did not rule it out and said that the US is ready to designate any person or company “undertaking systematic efforts to weaken or evade them and those tools are at this point well understood by companies and countries around the world.”
“We’re prepared to use them if it becomes necessary to do so,” Sullivan said.
Regarding oil, Sullivan said that the administration is looking at “various actions” it can take alongside allies to address oil prices, saying it was a major topic of conversation when Biden met with G7 allies.
Sullivan did not go into details, but hinted the actions would be announced soon, saying, “I will not steal the thunder of the administration on that issue.”
“That was a major topic of conversation. The question of what tools we have at our disposal to deal with global oil prices and without getting ahead of the administration we are looking at various actions we can take and I’ll leave it at that for now,” Sullivan said.
CNN’s Allie Malloy contributed reporting to this post.