US Hits Russia With New Sanctions As Ukraine Tensions Rise

US Hits Russia With New Sanctions As Ukraine Tensions Rise

The United States and its allies responded Friday to Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions, imposing sanctions on more than 1,000 people and businesses, including arms supply networks, as Moscow and the West escalated an already ongoing conflict. hot and full of potential. nuclear implications.

US officials said they would support any effort by Ukraine to retake the forcibly annexed territories, setting the stage for more hostilities. And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that his country would make a “fast-track” offer to join NATO, a plan that is not supported by the US or other allies and could add fuel to the fire.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement that Russia is incorporating four Ukrainian cities and areas was not unexpected after this week’s referendums that the West had denounced as a sham. And American and Western allies had anticipated what his reaction would be.

But the events dramatically increased tensions to a point not seen since the Cuban Missile Crisis 60 years ago during the Cold War.

“Make no mistake: These actions have no legitimacy,” President Joe Biden said in a statement shortly after Putin’s promise to defend newly annexed parts of Ukraine as if they were sovereign Russian territory. Biden had spoken out against the annexation plans last week at the UN General Assembly, where the vast majority of other members also expressed support for respecting the territorial integrity of all nations.

While the Biden administration has identified Russia’s weapons sources and battlefield high-tech as a priority, many of Friday’s other sanctions were in line with sanctions already enacted against thousands of Russian individuals and businesses, and they may have comparatively little impact on the war effort. . The administration hopes they will serve to further undermine support for Putin’s invasion among the Russian elite.

Meanwhile, the US and its European allies are racing to complete a deal on a measure they hope will do more damage to Russia’s economy: a cap on Russia’s seaborne oil exports that would undercut the prices Putin can demand. for their country’s oil worldwide.

For now, Biden said the new US financial sanctions, similar to those coming from like-minded countries, will impose severe costs on individuals and businesses “that provide political or economic support to illegal attempts to change status.” of the Ukrainian territory. The sanctions will apply to countries, individuals or companies that support or do business with the Russian-backed authorities in the newly annexed areas.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, echoing Biden, said the United States “unequivocally rejects Russia’s fraudulent attempt to change Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders. … This is a clear violation of international law and the Charter of the United Nations.”

“No one is fooled by what Moscow has done,” Blinken told reporters at a joint news conference with Canada’s foreign minister. “The whole process around these fake referendums was a complete farce. This territory is and will remain Ukraine, and Ukraine has every right to defend its land, defend the people from it, and take back the territory that Russia has taken from it.”

This suggests that the United States will support the Ukrainians with weapons and ammunition to help them with military action to retake the annexed areas. The United States has warned Ukraine in the past not to use US weapons against Russian territory.

Blinken also spoke out against Putin’s nuclear threats.

“This kind of talk about nuclear weapons is the height of irresponsibility, and it’s something we take very seriously,” he said. “To date,” she said, the United States has not seen “Russia doing anything that would suggest that it is contemplating the use of nuclear weapons.”

CLOCK: Putin vows to defend illegally seized regions in Ukraine by “all available means”

“I can only tell you that we planned against all possible scenarios, including this one.”

As for a broader protection guarantee, Ukraine has sought NATO membership for years but has yet to be admitted due to concerns about its internal governance. As a result of the Russian invasion, Finland and Sweden requested accelerated admission to the alliance.

The White House said National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to highlight the “firm commitment of the United States and NATO to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

Earlier, following Putin’s announcement, the White House along with the State, Treasury and Commerce departments had announced the new sanctions in a series of coordinated statements. The sanctions expand what has been increasing penalties against Russia and its representatives since the invasion began on February 24.

The Treasury has designated hundreds of members of Russia’s parliament, leaders of the country’s military and financial infrastructure and suppliers for sanctions designations that include asset freezes and a ban on Americans doing business with them. The Commerce Department added 57 companies to its list of export control violators, and the State Department added more than 900 people to its visa ban list, making them ineligible to travel to the United States.

Since the beginning of the invasion, the United States and European nations have imposed significant financial sanctions on Russia, its leaders and wealthy oligarchs linked to Putin. The allies have gone after the central bank reserves that underpin the Russian economy and cut off many Russian banks from a vital global financial network called SWIFT.

The war is having a devastating impact on the global economy and has contributed to massive disruptions in energy and food supplies around the world. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said this week that the world economy will lose $2.8 trillion in output in 2023 due to the conflict.

Putin seems unfazed. He warned that Russia will never hand over the absorbed regions – the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions – and will protect them as part of its sovereign territory.

Both chambers of the Russian parliament will meet next week to approve treaties for the regions to join Russia.

Ben Oakley
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