Former CIA chief: US needs to ‘tighten the screws' on Russia's economy

Former CIA director David Petraeus believes that Washington should increase pressure on Moscow as Russian President Vladimir Putin is facing military and economic failures.

Former CIA chief: US needs to ‘tighten the screws' on Russia's economy

New York CNN

David Petraeus, former CIA Director, tells CNN that Washington should increase pressure on Moscow because Russian President Vladimir Putin faces a double blow of economic and military failures.

Petraeus stated in a telephone interview that Putin is in a difficult situation. We need to keep tightening the screws.

Last month's Wagner revolt, although short-lived, was the biggest challenge to Putin's authority since his rise to power in 1990.

Petraeus is currently vice chairman of KKR Global Institute and said that Putin's face 'bleeding in the battlefield', as well as a 'bleeding in the economy, on the homefront'.

It hasn't been as bad for us as we feared. He said that Russia is still in trouble economically.

The retired general, a four-star, cited several developments that show the severe pain of the Russian economy. These include the mounting budget deficits in Moscow, the exodus by more than 1,000 Western companies, as well as the withdrawal of the major oil producers with their superior technology and the cutting off of many trade links with Europe.

Reuters, citing data from the finance ministry, reported that the Russian government's oil and gas revenues fell 47% in the first six months of this year compared to the same period last 2022. Tax returns decreased due to lower prices and volume sales.

Petraeus said that Russia is also facing a brain-drain due to the sheer numbers of talented citizens leaving the country since February 2022, when the war started.

He said: 'They have lost hundreds of thousands -- their brightest and best, who no longer want to live in a nation that is a pariah around the world.'

"An economy in hemorrhage"

Western sanctions did not kill the Russian economy. Larry Summers and others argue that sanctions on Russia are not as effective as expected because there haven't been enough countries to impose them.

Some, such as Yale professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld say that sanctions are working 'tremendously' well against Russia.

This is an economy that is hemorrhaging,' Sonnenfeld told CNN. Sonnenfeld said on CNN that the economy is in a state of hemorrhage.

On the Ukrainian battlefields, we can see how Russia's economy is slowly eroding. Although many Westerners believed that Putin's army could quickly overthrow Kyiv the war in Ukraine is still ongoing.

Petraeus said that the war will not end until Putin realizes it isn't sustainable.

'Cat-and-mouse game'

It is clear that one of the main objectives behind Western sanctions against Russia is to make it difficult for Moscow to continue its war.

Petraeus praised Treasury Department's Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo's'very impressing' sanctions campaign.

The former CIA director noted that modern sanctions are complex, and target countries find ways to evade them.

US officials claim that, to circumvent Western bans on the sale of technology to Russia, Moscow imports dishwashers, washers and other kitchen appliances in order to use advanced computer chips for rockets, airplanes and elsewhere.

This is a cat-and-mouse type of game. Petraeus stated that it takes great perseverance and attention in detail. The challenge is a matter of sheer bandwidth and capacity.

Petraeus called on the US and its allies to "continue tightening" economic sanctions and export control measures against Russia, and to "minimize" the number of countries that are willing to do business with Moscow.

He said: 'We must continue to pursue it - and I am confident that we will.'

Are you being too cautious?

Sonnenfeld, a Yale professor, said that there could be more done to exert pressure on Moscow. This includes better tracking of microchips and avionics components that make their way through third party countries into Russia.

There is a leakage of chips in aviation. He said that this could be better policed.

The KKR executive praised Biden's administration and Congress, saying they did an 'extraordinary' job in supporting Ukraine and maintaining the Western alliance.

He expressed his disappointment, however, that Washington had not moved more quickly to provide Ukraine with all the military equipment that officials in Kyiv claim is necessary.

There is a pattern in which Ukraine requests something, and we respond with 'No', then a 'possibly', then a'maybe', until we finally agree to it. Petraeus stated that you are losing time with this effort. We have been a bit too cautious,' Petraeus said.