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Tipsheet

Biden Spares One High-Profile Figure in Putin's Inner Circle From Sanctions

Denis Balibouse/Pool Photo via AP

The Biden administration has been endlessly announcing, emphasizing, and bragging about its sanctions regime aimed at Russian President Vladimir Putin, his government officials, and wealthy oligarchs — but there's one high-profile figure in Putin's inner circle that's been spared — and specifically excluded — from sanctions levied by the United States. 

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According to reporting in The Wall Street Journal, "Alina Kabaeva, the woman the U.S. government believes to be Mr. Putin’s girlfriend and the mother of at least three of his children" was pulled off the target list by Biden's National Security Council.

So, with the Biden administration claiming to lead the world in punishing Putin for his bloody invasion of Ukraine, they gave a pass to...Putin's mistress? Of course. 

According to WSJ:

The Treasury and State departments typically work together to prepare sanctions packages, incorporating intelligence and other information. The National Security Council often has to sign off before a package is announced. In Ms. Kabaeva’s case, the Treasury department had prepared the sanctions against her, but the NSC made an 11th hour decision to pull her name from a list set to be announced.

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As The Journal notes, "U.S. officials debating the move" fear "that sanctioning Ms. Kabaeva would be deemed so personal a blow to Mr. Putin that it could further escalate tensions between Russia and the U.S." 

Perhaps, but Putin has never admitted any relationship with Kabaeva, and the Biden administration has not exactly been acting like its sanctions against Russia or wartime aid given to Ukraine to fight Putin are impersonal.

In fact sheets circulated by the White House, the Biden administration has called its sanctions on more than 600 Russian targets "unprecedented" economic action "to hold Putin accountable" for his invasion of Ukraine. The targets include hundreds of Duma members, heads of financial institutions, other oligarchs, and members of Putin's government and inner circle. Even Putin's adult children have been hit with U.S. sanctions.

So while bragging about its "devastating economic measures" that amount to the "most impactful, coordinated, and wide-ranging economic restrictions in history," the Biden administration is afraid to sanction Putin's mistress? And who on the National Security Council made that decision?

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"Speak Softly And Carry A Large Javelin," President Biden said in a recent announcement of some $800 million in additional military aid to Ukraine. The president has previously called Putin a war criminal and even said that Putin couldn't remain in power — but the White House thinks that sanctioning Putin's unacknowledged mistress would be an escalatory act?

Biden's recent turn of phrase based on Teddy Roosevelt's quote, along with his previous tough talk about Putin, shows even more confounding inconsistencies between what the Biden White House says and what it ends up doing.

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