CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Former national security adviser John Bolton says President Joe Biden has the key to end Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. He says it all comes down to one thing.
“He should announce that we are going to bring down Russia’s energy sector, we’re gonna savage it,” Bolton said during a Tuesday appearance on “On Balance with Leland Vittert.” “We’re going to bar all exports of Russian oil and gas, we’re going to cut off all payments that are due, we’re going to freeze all oil and gas-related assets around the world, we’re going to drive his revenues to zero.”
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine stretched into a sixth day Tuesday, U.S. lawmakers are pressuring Biden to place sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas industry. Bolton said by cutting off the world’s largest exporter of natural gas and second-largest exporter of oil, Putin would have no choice but to back down.
“Do you want to stop the Russian military from grinding Ukraine into the ground, threatening other NATO allies in Europe, and telling the Chinese that America is all talk and no action?” Bolton said. “I don’t think that’s America’s long-term strategic interest.”
U.S. crude oil prices jumped 8% to $103.41 per barrel Tuesday. That’s the biggest single-day jump since May 2020 and the highest price since 2014. Brent crude, the international standard, surged 7.1% to $104.97.
This comes as the International Energy Agency announced Tuesday that 60 million barrels of oil from various countries’ strategic reserves, with half of that coming from the U.S.
As part of a broader international push, Biden announced sanctions last Thursday that target Russian banks and the country’s elites, and restrict the export of vital technologies that are key for the military and economic development. The U.S. and its European allies intensified the sanctions Saturday by announcing plans to freeze the reserves of Russia’s central bank and block certain financial institutions from the SWIFT messaging system for international payments.
But the rules issued by the Treasury Department allow Russian energy transactions to keep going through nonsanctioned banks that are not based in the U.S. And administration officials stress that the sanctions are designed to minimize any disruptions to the global energy markets.
Bolton said Biden should also consider a no-fly zone for Russian aircraft over Ukraine, but he said that is also unlikely.
“He will not … announce a no-fly zone, he will not announce substantial increases in American weapons, he certainly won’t announce American boots on the ground.”
Biden did announce Tuesday that the U.S. will ban Russian carriers from its airspace, as Europe and Canada have done already.
When it comes to Biden’s State of the Union speech, Bolton said he doesn’t believe Putin will give the address much thought, given that it will be around 5 a.m. in Moscow. But he does believe once it’s over, Putin will launch more attacks.
“The risk is it’s going to be bombardment all night long, maybe beginning the minute the State of the Union message ends there in Kharkiv and other areas,” Bolton said.
The uncertainty over Putin’s thinking adds a wildcard to Russia’s war on Ukraine. The Russian military has unleashed brutal tactics so far to hurt Ukraine, including a bombardment of a residential area in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.
On Tuesday, Russian forces bombarded the central square of the country’s second-biggest city and Kyiv’s main TV tower, killing at least five people. The Babi Yar Holocaust memorial in Kyiv was also damaged.
Still, Ukrainian troops and civilians continue to resist the invasion.
“I think the hardest thing for Vladimir Putin so far has been the failure of his own military,” Bolton said “We’ve got many reports of his trucks and equipment running out of gasoline, reports today from the Pentagon, they’ve run out of food, almost incredible to think this is the descendent of the Soviet military we feared during the Cold War. I think that’s about to change.”
He continued: “I think the sheer brute force of all the Russian troops and equipment coming across is going to begin to make a difference. And I’m very worried much of (Ukraine’s) cities are about to be reduced to rubble.”