“Europe’s American president”: How von der Leyen followed Biden on sanctions

The EU sanctions against Russia were planned long before the Ukraine war – and the coordination with the USA was closer than previously known. EU Commission president von der Leyen and her cabinet chief Seibert played a central role.

This is shown in a report by “Politico”, aptly titled “Europe’s American president: The paradox of Ursula von der Leyen”. It goes into detail about the transatlantic vote before the war.

In November 2021, von der Leyen made her first visit to the White House. Among those in the meeting in the Oval Office that afternoon were Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, then Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economics Daleep Singh, and Amanda Sloat, senior director for Europe at the National Security Council.


According to the website, everything began in November 2021, four months before the start of the war, in the White House in Washington – and not in the EU Commission in Brussels. Besides Sullivan and Singh, von der Leyen’s head of cabinet Björn Seibert was also to play a key role.

Regular consultations were agreed upon. CIA chief Bill Burns travelled to Brussels, the well-known Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, kept the EU Commission in line with a weekly video conference.

On the EU side, Seibert was the main person. “We had a tremendous amount of convergence across the board,” said one “senior official”. No wonder, the man is a transatlanticist and has already advised von der Leyen in the Federal Ministry of Defence!

The Commission acted alone

It is remarkable that the head of the Commission acted alone in her arrangements with Washington, without regular consultation with Berlin or Paris. Together they worked out a sanctions package that was kept secret until the very end.

It was not until the EU summit in December that the sanctions were discussed. But Chancellor Scholz was not yet really on board – he had to be brought into line. A few days after the war began, he gave in to the insistence of the Americans and the Commission.

All this is vividly described by “Politico”. However, this is not the only source that proves that the sanctions were by no means a response to the war – and how resolutely the USA led the EU into economic war.

If you do a little research, you will find joint meetings between Sullivan and Seibert long before the war began. For example, the two met at the White House as early as September 2021, as this memo shows. Even then, Russia was a topic.

On 12 February, two weeks before the war began, they talked about sanctions against Russia, aid for Ukraine and energy policy. Even then, US deliveries of LNG to Europe were discussed – under the title “EU-US Strategic Partnership on Energy Security”.

Apparently, Sullivan and Seibert had agreed that the EU would cut itself off from gas supplies from Russia and would have to rely on US aid. Mind you – this was weeks before the war started! The “energy war” started early – in Washington!

“Shock and Awe” in the economy

Interesting is also the information one finds about the (now retired) sanctions expert Singh. He apparently specifically looked for the weak points of the Russian economy – and tried to optimise the profit of the USA. More on this in this story in the “New Yorker”.

In early February, he gave an interview on Chancellor Scholz’s visit to the White House. Even then – three weeks before the start of the war – he blurted out some details of the sanctions that were later decided by the EU. The end of Nord Stream 2 was also a topic…

In March, he explained the USA’s “Shock and Awe” strategy against Russia, i.e. economic warfare. “The best projections I see out there right now are suggesting that Russia’s economy is gonna be half of its size that it was before this invasion,” he explained.

Energy embargo made in USA

In April, he admitted that the US was having “private” discussions with the EU to persuade it to embargo oil, coal and gas from Russia. Shortly afterwards, von der Leyen came up with her “Repower EU” plan, which pursues exactly the same goal, dressed up as “independence”.

We’ve banned all Russian oil imports, coal imports, natural gas imports. We happen to be a major producer of all three of those sources of energy; Europe is not. So they’re operating at a different timetable. But obviously, we would like to be in alignment with them eventually. And we’re having those discussions privately.


At an event organised by Atlantikbrücke in Frankfurt at the end of September, Singh explained that the USA was also preparing for sanctions against China. “There is no country too big to sanction,” he said. “I am sure active planning is (being done) on both sides”.

It is only a matter of time before the EU follows the US down this dangerous path. Russia was apparently only a prelude, China’s next. The “American” president of the EU Commission will certainly not say “No”…

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version) The original post (in German) is here