As the West imposes punishing sanctions on Russia, nations who flout the values of the international economy will face consequences. And those who continue to stand on the sidelines, such as China, may well be harmed if they don’t “respect these principles now when it counts.”
That was the forceful message sent by US Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen during a special address at the Atlantic Council on Wednesday ahead of next week’s spring meetings for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. Reiterating the Biden administration’s willingness to push Russia toward “economic, financial, and strategic isolation,” Yellen said international leaders would also push to mitigate the economic impacts of the war on those nations most dependent on its energy, food, fertilizer, and commodities.
*Yellen said that Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine “predestined an exit from the global financial system” and that the Kremlin “will be forced to choose between propping up its economy and funding the continuation of Putin’s brutal war.” She did leave room for reconciliation, if peace comes soon: “Russia could end this unnecessary war and the near-term impact could be contained.”
*And her criticism of China was aggressive, particularly by the careful standards of the Treasury Department: “China cannot expect the global community to respect its appeals to the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity in the future if it does not respect those principles now when it counts.”
*Yellen also implied that China could face significant economic blowback itself, if it does not use its recently affirmed special relationship with Russia to “make something positive” and “help to end this war.” “The world’s attitude towards China and its willingness to embrace further economic integration may well be affected by China’s reaction to our call for resolute action on Russia,” she said.
*The message wasn’t just meant for China, but also for those other countries “who are currently sitting on the fence, perhaps seeing an opportunity to gain by preserving their relationship with Russia and backfilling the void left by others.” While she didn’t name any countries specifically, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with US President Joe Biden on Monday to discuss India’s use of Russian energy among other topics.