Washington – President BidenWith the Russian financial and technology sectors targeted on Thursday in retaliation for vowing to cut off Russia’s access to high-tech imports and freeze more than $1 trillion in Russian assets held abroad.
“Putin is the aggressor,” Biden said from the White House. “Putin chose this war.” Now he and his country will bear the consequences.”
For weeks, the president has warned that the United States is prepared to impose “quick and severe” economic sanctions on Russia if it invades Ukraine. He said the sanctions announced Thursday are being imposed jointly with allies who, along with the United States, represent “more than half of the global economy.”
The White House and its European allies announced limited economic measures earlier this week aimed at deterring Putin from further aggression after he recognized the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine. But the initial penaltiesThe Kremlin has avoided escalating the crisis with Ukraine, as Russian forces began bombing Ukrainian cities, including the capital, Kiev, late on Wednesday.
New sanctions target Russian banks, imports and elites close to Putin
The latest round of US sanctions target more Russian banks and oligarchs with the intent of isolating them from the US financial system, and with sanctions from Western allies, from the broader global economy.
“We will limit Russia’s ability to do business in dollars, euros, sterling and yen to be part of the global economy, and we will limit Russia’s ability to do so,” the president said. “We will impede the ability to finance and develop the Russian military, and we will weaken their ability to compete in the high-tech economy of the 21st century.”
The United States will freeze the assets of four major Russian banks, including the state-owned VTB. With the latest measure targeting financial institutions, the Biden administration has so far targeted Russian banks that collectively hold $1 trillion in assets. The Treasury said that imposing sanctions on VTB “will cut a critical artery in the Russian financial system,” its assets held by the United States will be immediately frozen and the Kremlin will not have access to them.
The administration of Biden also sanctioned Sberbank, the largest financial institution in Russia and the main creditor of the Russian economy.
More Russian oligarchs and their family members will also be sanctioned, with additional elites expected to be targeted in the future. The approved members of Putin’s inner circle are: Sergey B. Ivanov and his son Sergei S. Ivanov; Nikolai Patrushev and his son Andrei Patrushev; and Igor Sechin and his son Ivan Sechin.
Sergei B. Ivanov is the Presidential Special Representative for Environmental Protection, Environment and Transport, and is considered one of Putin’s closest allies. Nikolai Patrushev is the Secretary of the Russian Security Council. Igor Sechin is the head of Rosneft, a publicly traded oil company.
Senior executives of state-owned banks were also subjected to economic sanctions: Alexander Alexandrovich Vidakhin of Sberbank; Andrei Sergeevich Puchkov and Yuri Alekseevich Soloviev of VTB; and Soloviev’s wife, Galina Olegovna Ulyutina.
“We will continue to beat the ratings drums against corrupt billionaires in the coming days,” Biden said.
In addition to hitting Russian elites and banks, the United States is imposing sanctions on 24 Belarusian individuals and entities in response to its support for the Russian invasion.
The president said the effects of sanctions from the United States and Europe will show “over time,” but the measures announced so far will cut more than half of Russia’s high-tech imports, harm its ability to modernize its military, and weaken Russia’s. Aviation industry and hit Putin’s “long-term strategic ambitions.”
The Commerce Department said the United States is banning the export of “semiconductors, computers, telecommunications, information security equipment, lasers, and sensors” to Russia, targeting “the defense, aerospace, and naval industries.”
“We intentionally designed these sanctions to maximize the long-term impact on Russia and minimize the impact on the United States and our allies,” Biden said.
The new sanctions imposed by the Biden administration do not block Russia’s access to SWIFT, the system that facilitates global financial transactions. Doing so was “always an option,” the president said, but noted Europe’s opposition over why it should be excluded from this round of proceedings.
Biden said that punishing Putin himself is still on the table.
How does Europe respond to the Russian attack?
The European Union intends to present a “package of collective and targeted sanctions” to member states for approval Thursday, according to Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission.
“With this package, we will target strategic sectors of the Russian economy by blocking their access to technologies and markets that are essential to Russia. We will weaken Russia’s economic base and capacity for modernization,” von der Leyen said in a statement. statment Before Mr. Biden’s address. In addition, we will freeze Russian assets in the European Union and stop Russian banks’ access to European financial markets.
The EU leader said the sanctions package is “designed to inflict severe losses on the interests of the Kremlin and its ability to finance war” and is being developed in consultation with the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Australia and other partners.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also pledged to impose “a massive package of economic sanctions designed in a timely manner to disrupt the Russian economy” in a televised address on Thursday. The United Kingdom imposed sanctions on five Russian banks and three oligarchs earlier in the week.
As part of the new tranche of sanctions, which Johnson described as “the biggest and toughest package of economic sanctions Russia has ever seen”, the UK will freeze the assets of major Russian banks, including VTB, as well as 100 new and individual entities. He said the UK would also limit the amount of money Russian citizens can deposit into their UK bank accounts.
The United Kingdom is banning Aeroflot, Russia’s largest airline, as part of its response and imposing new sanctions on Belarus for its role in Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
Besides the United States and the European Union, Johnson told the House of Commons that he would also take steps to impose new trade and export controls, with plans to introduce legislation to ban a range of high-tech exports to Russia.
“These trade sanctions will constrain Russia’s industrial, military and technological capabilities for years to come,” he said.
When Putin recognized the independence of the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, Germany took steps to halt certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a major setback for Russia’s aspirations to exert more influence on European energy markets.
The non-operating pipeline owned by Gazprom, Russia’s state-backed energy company, is a multibillion-dollar project designed to double the amount of gas transported from Russia to Germany.
The United States has opposed Germany’s use of the pipeline, warning that it will boost the country’s dependence on Russia for natural gas. Mr. Biden said the US is working with Germany to ensure Nord Stream 2 “will not move forward”Against the company behind the pipeline on Wednesday.
Ahead of Thursday’s attack, EU foreign ministers agreed to an initial package of sanctions in response to Moscow’s recognition of the two breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine, which targeted individuals and banks, as well as the ability of the Russian state and government to access the EU capital. and financial markets.
Penalties Specifically hit 27 Russian individuals and entities covering the political, military, business, and media sectors, as well as 351 Russian parliament members who voted to recognize Luhansk and Donetsk regions as independent.
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