US threatens sweeping export controls against Russian industries

The U.S. is threatening to use sweeping export controls against key Russian industries if Moscow invades Ukraine, a senior administration official confirmed.

The threat, first reported by The Washington Post, broadens out the administration’s options for retaliating against Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has amassed at least 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s border, should an invasion occur. 

“No final decisions have been made, but we would start high and stay high and maximize the pain to the Kremlin,” the official said, adding that that the US is in discussion with allies on these actions.

The administration is considering exercising the foreign direct product rule to control exports to Russia of all microelectronics designed with US software or technology or produced using US equipment, the official said.

The rule could target Russia’s artificial intelligence, maritime, defense, and civilian aviation sectors, the official said or  used broadly, such as targeting consumer electronics.

Using the export controls is attractive given that the U.S. is dominant in software, technology and equipment in microelectronics.

The Trump administration used the rule against Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, contributing to the company’s first annual revenue drop in 2021, according to The Post.

Russia’s mobilization of troops near Ukraine has sparked fears that Moscow may invade Ukraine, as when it annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

President Biden and his officials have threatened high economic costs on the Kremlin if troops cross the border.

Separately, The New York Times reported that Biden was weighing sending several thousand troops, as well as warships and aircrafts, to eastern Europe and the Baltics amid fears of the invasion.

The president hasn't directly endorsed sending troops to the region to deter an invasion. However, he has said that an invasion of Ukraine would mean that Washington sends more troops to bolster NATO's defenses.

“We’re going to actually increase troop presence in Poland, in Romania, et cetera, if in fact he moves because we have a sacred obligation in Article 5 to defend those countries. They are part of NATO,” Biden said during a Wednesday press conference.

Asked about The Times’ report, another administration official told The Hill “we are consulting with allies and developing plans to reinforce our NATO eastern flank allies, but don’t have anything further.”

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