WASHINGTON/LONDON: The US on Friday announced “severe” new sanctions on Russia in response to what President Joe Biden called Moscow’s “fraudulent” claim to have annexed four Ukrainian regions.
“The United States is imposing swift and severe costs on Russia,” the White House said in a statement. It also announced that G7 allies support imposing “costs” on any country that backs the Kremlin’s attempt to incorporate the Ukrainian regions.
In a statement, Biden said “the United States condemns Russia’s fraudulent attempt today to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory. Russia is violating international law, trampling on the United Nations Charter, and showing its contempt for peaceful nations everywhere.”
“The United States will always honor Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders. We will continue to support Ukraine’s efforts to regain control of its territory by strengthening its hand militarily and diplomatically, including through the $1.1 billion in additional security assistance the United States announced this week,” he continued.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said “the United States unequivocally rejects Russia’s fraudulent attempt to change Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.”
“In response, the United States and our allies and partners are imposing swift and severe costs,” he said.
The Biden administration said the sanctions will target scores of Russian parliament members, government officials, family members and also industries supplying the Russian military, “including international suppliers.”
The US Treasury Department said it imposed sanctions on 14 people in Russia’s military-industrial complex, two leaders of the country’s central bank, family members of top officials and 278 members of Russia’s legislature “for enabling Russia’s sham referenda and attempt to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory.”
The Treasury also issued guidance warning of a heightened sanctions risk to those outside Russia should they provide political or economic support to Moscow.
Among those designated was Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak; 109 State Duma members; the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of Russia and 169 of its members; and the governor of the Central Bank of Russia, Elvira Nabiullina.
The US Department of Commerce also added 57 entities in Russia and Crimea to its US export blacklist.
It also issued new guidance saying that US restrictions on exports to Russia can apply to entities in other countries that support Russia and Belarus’ military and industrial sectors by shipping prohibited technologies and other items prohibited by the US and the 37 countries with similar restrictions.
The US State Department in a separate statement said it imposed visa restrictions on more than 900 people, including members of the Russian and Belarusian military and “Russia’s proxies for violating Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence,” barring them from traveling to the US.
“We are also issuing a clear warning supported by G7 Leaders: We will hold to account any individual, entity, or country that provides political or economic support for Russia’s illegal attempts to change the status of Ukrainian territory,” Blinken said.
Meanwhile, the G7 foreign ministers condemned Russia’s proclaimed annexation on Friday as a “new low point” in the war and vowed to take further action against Moscow.
“We will never recognize these purported annexations, nor the sham ‘referenda’ conducted at gunpoint,” said a statement from the top diplomats of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, the US and the EU.
“We will impose further economic costs on Russia, and on individuals and entities — inside and outside of Russia — that provide political or economic support to these violations of international law,” it added.
The UK also sanctioned Nabiullina on Friday, imposing an asset freeze and travel ban, the British Foreign Office said.
The foreign office said Britain had also imposed new services and goods export bans, targeted at “vulnerable sectors of the Russian economy,” in response to Russia declaring “the illegal annexation of four regions of Ukraine.”
The sanctions announcement — which comes after multiple rounds of earlier measures designed to isolate Russia’s economy and cripple its ability to maintain the military — followed Putin’s speech earlier Friday in which he declared Russian annexation of four territories.
The regions — Donetsk, Kherson, Lugansk and Zaporizhzhia — are currently under partial Russian occupation, with Ukraine’s Western-armed military pushing hard to recapture the land.
In 2014, Putin annexed another region, Crimea, where Russian troops faced almost no opposition from the then badly organized Ukrainian military.
This February, he launched a full-scale invasion of eastern, southern and northern Ukraine in a bid to topple the pro-Western government, but the revamped Ukrainian military has since partly repelled the invaders and continues to push Russian lines back.
(With AFP and Reuters)