Obama to press for ‘financial weaponry’ against Russia

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In his forthcoming trip to Europe to address the Ukrainian crisis, US President Barack Obama will try to build support for a “growing arsenal of financial weaponry” to be used against Russia, according to a report.

President Obama will travel to Europe Monday night to bolster solidarity among NATO allies already on edge by Russia’s moves in Ukraine.

Obama to press for 'financial weaponry' against Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to overshadow the president’s speeches and meetings, according to several media reports.

Obama will stress that if Putin does not change his current stance with respect to Ukraine, Moscow will face more economic sanctions.

The crisis has caused relations between Washington and Moscow to plummet to the lowest level in a generation.

To make his case for a possible next round of sanctions against Russia, President Obama will push the work of the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence– a unit inside the Treasury Department comprising of sanctions architects and financial experts—at meetings with European leaders, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The official who runs the office, Undersecretary for Financial Intelligence David Cohen, is making his second trip to Europe in two months next week, as part of a campaign to promote the use of finance to target foreign adversaries.

Some lawmakers are questioning the Obama administration for assigning an obscure unit inside the Treasury to play a leading role in US foreign policy.

US companies also worry that meddling with an economy as big as Russia’s could set off significant losses for their businesses, especially if Moscow decided to retaliate.

The Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence was founded after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 to disrupt terrorist financing but has evolved over the past decade to play a central role in exerting pressure on foreign countries by interfering with their financial transactions.

“What we’ve done over the past 10 years is to create a new method of projecting US power,” Cohen said in an interview with the Journal. “We do that in a way that is unique in the world.”

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