Yellen says Russian invasion brings 'enormous repercussions'

Treasury Secretary says US won't take part in G20 meetings because of Russian involvement

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at the US House committee on financial services hearing in Washington on April 6. AFP

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told a House panel on Wednesday that Russia’s aggression in Eastern Europe will have “enormous economic repercussions in Ukraine and beyond”.

“Globally, spillovers from the crisis are heightening economic vulnerabilities in many countries that are already facing higher debt burdens and limited policy options as they recover from Covid-19,” Ms Yellen told the House financial services committee.

The comments were part of her annual testimony on the state of the international financial system.

Ms Yellen said Russia’s invasion “including the atrocities committed against innocent Ukrainians in Bucha, are reprehensible, represent an unacceptable affront to the rules-based global order and will have enormous economic repercussions for the world”.

She also touched on the need for food and energy security and debt sustainability globally.

Ms Yellen included a request for Congress to provide support to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which have provided grants and humanitarian funds financing to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.

The US and western allies have imposed many sanctions against Russia in the first weeks of the war and administration officials in recent days have put more focus on closing loopholes that Russia might try to use to get around them.

On Wednesday, the US announced more sanctions, this time against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters and toughening penalties against Russian banks in retaliation for “war crimes” in Ukraine.

“Treasury is committed to holding Russia accountable for its actions so it cannot benefit from the international financial system,” Ms Yellen said.

Legislators questioned Ms Yellen on China and Taiwan, as the US and its allies continued to impose sanctions on Russia.

She said the US was prepared to impose sanctions against China if it moved aggressively towards its island territory, as some fear it might.

“I believe we’ve shown that we can in the case of Russia,” she said. “I think you should not doubt our ability to resolve to do the same in other situations.”

Ms Yellen was also asked about Russia’s involvement in the G20 summit, which is set to take place in Indonesia this year.

“I’ve made clear to my colleagues in Indonesia that we will not be participating in a number of meetings” at the annual summit, she said.

US President Joe Biden has said he would like to kick Russia out of the G20.

Updated: April 06, 2022, 11:46 PM
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