Exclusive-U.S. could hit Russia smartphone, aircraft part imports if it invades Ukraine -official

December 21, 2021

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. officials are considering tough export control measures to disrupt Russia’s economy should Russian President Vladmir Putin invade Ukraine, a Biden administration official told Reuters.

The measures, to be discussed in a meeting of senior officials on Tuesday, would be in addition to economic sanctions the Biden administration is contemplating should Russia invade, after massing tens of thousands of troops along the Ukrainian border.

U.S. President Joe Biden has threatened devastating actions against Russia, to try to warn Putin off any possible military incursion. Putin has denied that Russia plans an invasion.

Measures to be discussed at the White House meeting include “extraordinary” export control measures that could choke off broad swaths of industrial and consumer technologies to Russia, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The measures being discussed could halt Russia’s ability to import smartphones, key aircraft and automobile components, and materials from many other sectors. They could have a major impact on Russian consumers, industrial operations, and employment, the official said.

The official said the potential measures would be unprecedented for Russia. They would employ tools used by former President Donald Trump’s administration, and carried forward by the Biden administration, to block Chinese telecommunications company Huawei from accessing advanced semiconductors.

The basis of such an action is the fact that semiconductors that go into Huawei phones include parts that were designed in the United States, the official said. This can touch chips all around the world based on the fact that key U.S. input went into them, the official said.

U.S. officials plan to consult closely with key partners in Europe and Asia that could be implicated by these measures and to encourage coordinated efforts where appropriate, the official said.

Russia’s cellphone market is dominated by foreign companies like Apple, Samsung and Huawei , which became subject to a new Russia law this year requiring them to install Russian software.

(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by David Gregorio)

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