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President Biden’s Deputy National Security Advisor Daleep Singh Plays Pivotal Role in Imposing Sanctions on Russia

President Biden’s Deputy National Security Advisor Daleep Singh Plays Pivotal Role in Imposing Sanctions on Russia

  • The 47-year-old Obama administration alumni is the great grand-nephew of Daleep Singh Saund, the first Asian-American elected to the U.S. Congress.

Since his appointment in February as Deputy National Security Advisor to President Biden, Daleep Singh has been working under the radar. Since last week, the Indian American has become the administration’s point man in issuing sanctions on Russia. Politico says “Singh has quickly become a vital official in the White House and the unlikely tip of the spear in the administration’s economic battle with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

At the Feb. 24 press briefing, Singh reviewed an “unprecedented” package of sanctions “that will ‘isolate Russia from the global financial system.” He told reporters that the Biden administration expects the costs of new sanctions on Russia will build over time and won’t disrupt global energy flows.

Singh made his first appearance at the White House press podium earlier this month. On his second appearance on Feb. 22, he joined press secretary Jen Psaki for the daily press briefing. ”Back by popular demand,” Psaki said while introducing Singh. “If he decides he’s not going to be an economics expert anymore, he might have a future in our business.”

The 47-year-old was also deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury for international affairs and acting Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Markets in the Obama administration. He is the great grand-nephew of Daleep Singh Saund, the first Asian-American elected to the U.S. Congress.

In his opening remarks, Singh said that “Russia’s long previewed invasion of Ukraine has begun and so too has our response.” Noting the press the “speed and coordination” in President Biden’s response was “historic,” Singh said unlike “previous sanctions regimes, we announced our first tranche of sanctions in less than a day and in lockstep with Allies and partners in the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, and Australia.”

“Singh has also become a key author of the White House’s rolling sanctions scheme, which was designed to serve as both a deterrent and now a punishment for Putin’s actions in Ukraine,” Politico says in its West Wing Playbook. 

Singh has made several media appearances to talk about sanctions. He “huddled with the inner circle that Biden convened this morning (Feb. 24) in the Oval Office to discuss sanctions as the Russian invasion intensified,” the Politico newsletter said. 

Indian news publications also carried a profile of Singh reported by news agencies like the Press Trust of India and the India Asian News Service, highlighting his pivotal role in imposing the sanctions. 

In 2014, while working in the Obama administration, Singh was involved in implementing sanctions on Russia, following its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. He worked at the U.S. Department of the Treasury as Acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Markets and Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Affairs. In that role, he helped shape the Treasury Department’s crisis response to Ukraine, Russia, Greece, and Puerto Rico. He also directed the Treasury Department’s Markets Room, which provided real-time and thematic analysis for senior officials.

In a Sept. 12, 2018, Senate Banking Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Singh shared his experiences. As a Treasury official who “worked extensively on the design of Russia sanctions in 2014,” Singh said he drew three main conclusions from the experience. “Sanctions do their job,” he said, “if they are carefully designed and embedded into a coherent foreign policy.” He continued: “The signaling of future sanctions is at least as potent as the actions themselves,” adding that “sanctions aren’t enough to change behavior.” 

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He also outlined how the U.S. could implement a broader sanctions campaign against Russia in the future. “Sanctions against a country like Russia,” he said, “should demonstrate U.S. resolve and capacity to impose overwhelming costs; limit contagion through the U.S. and global financial system; avoid the appearance of punishing the Russian civilian population; increase the chance of partnering with international allies; and preserve the scope for escalation or de-escalation.”

As New York Federal Reserve markets chief, Singh played a critical leadership role in the emergency facilities the Fed launched in response to COVID-19, John C. Williams, president and chief executive officer of the New York Fed said in the press release. “Daleep brought his dedication to public service and leadership skills to the New York Fed and had a meaningful impact during his tenure.” 

Prior to his tenure at the Treasury Department, Singh worked for Goldman Sachs, with a focus on U.S. interest rates and currency markets, from 2003 to 2007, and again from 2008 to 2011. He was also a partner at Element Capital Management from 2007 to 2008. He is a former adjunct senior fellow at the Center for New American Security and the Atlantic Council. He was also an adjunct professor of geoeconomics at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Born in Olney, Maryland and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina Singh holds a bachelor’s degree with Duke University in economics and public policy and a master of business administration/master of public administration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University, with a focus on international economics.

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