Florida-based U.S. Representative and gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist released a statement on Thursday calling for increased sanctions on Russia, specifically the targeting of the nation’s energy sector, a key sector of the Russian economy.
Since the onset of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine last week, the United States levied significant economic sanctions including severing the connection to the U.S. financial system for Russia’s largest financial institution, sweeping restrictions on Russia’s military to strike a blow to Putin’s military and strategic ambition, and Russia-wide restrictions to choke off the import of technological goods critical to a diversified economy and Putin’s ability to project power.
Crist, however, wants to take sanctions a step further and cripple Russia’s energy exportation, which accounted for $119 billion in revenues in 2021, or roughly 36 percent of the country’s total budget. No western power has gone to the extent of sanctioning Russian energy thus far, as nations like Germany are increasingly reliant on Russian gas.
“The Russian dictator Putin’s illegal and intolerable invasion of Ukraine is killing innocent men, women, and children, and we need to be doing all we can to punish those responsible,” said Crist. “It is time to completely sanction and cut off Russia’s energy, which is used to pad the pocket of the same regime that slaughters innocent Ukrainians. This may be painful in the short term, but we are Americans. When a bully threatens our way of life and threatens the free world, we do not cower.”
Economic analysts are hesitant to implement gas stations under fears that the cost of crude oil could rise above $150 dollars a barrel as an effect, translating to gas that could approach 5 dollars a gallon in the United States.
Crist’s statement comes just days after Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried penned a letter to the three other members of the state’s Cabinet — Governor Ron DeSantis, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, and Attorney General Ashley Moody — urging them to divest from Russian-backed entities within the state.
“As trustees of the Florida State Board of Administration, I am writing today to urge you to divest Florida from Russian-backed entities in response to the invasion of Ukraine,” said Fried in her letter. “We must unite as a state, nation, and global community to condemn these actions of war from Vladimir Putin and Russia, and we must send a strong message that we will not allow aggression against democracy anywhere. Our state should immediately begin to cancel state contracts with Russian businesses and divest from Russian firms and other entities that have business ties to the country.”
The Sunshine State, and the Miami region, in particular, is well-known to be a hub for foreign Russian investment sectors like real estate and finance. Fried urges that the Cabinet prevent Florida’s financial activity from, directly or indirectly, aiding Russia as it wages unprovoked war against Ukraine. Fried seeks to review state purchases and investments, including investments with any company or institution that is on a list of Russian headquartered entities.