US hits Russia with ‘war crimes’ sanctions, Europe follows
The United States on Wednesday launched a new wave of financial sanctions against Russia that President Joe Biden said would put in place a lasting sentence on the country’s economy.
The UK quickly followed suit, and more pain came from the European Union as the allies continued a growing campaign to tighten the economic screws on Russian President Vladimir Putin. for “war crimes” in Ukraine.
Personally, US sanctions have targeted Putin’s family, targeting his two adult daughters in addition to blocking two major Russian banks.
Biden said “Russia has already failed in its original war” after the country’s forces were forced back from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. He warned, however, that “this fight is far from over”.
“This war could go on for a long time,” but the United States will continue to stand with Ukraine and Ukrainians in the fight for freedom, Biden said. “We will stifle Russia’s ability to grow for years to come.”
The latest sanctions underscore the financial difficulties Russia faces as evidence that its troops killed Ukrainian civilians has prompted even harsher sanctions from the United States and its Western allies that are eroding Putin’s ability to to fight.
Although a series of increased sanctions have not forced Putin out of the war, they have placed Russia in increasingly desperate economic circumstances as Ukrainian forces resist its blockades. The key to the effectiveness of the sanctions has been unity between the United States and European nations. And the atrocities exposed in Ukraine have intensified pressure on Germany and other countries to go further and join the United States and Lithuania in blocking all Russian energy exports.
The UK piled on Wednesday with asset freezes against major banks, a ban on British investment in Russia and a pledge to end dependence on Russian coal and oil by the end of the year.
The European Union was also expected to take additional measures soon, including a ban on new investment in Russia and a coal embargo, after recent evidence of atrocities emerged following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the town of Bucha.
The United States has acted against two of Russia’s largest banks, Sberbank and Alfa Bank, banning assets from passing through the American financial system and banning Americans from doing business with these two institutions.
In addition to sanctions targeting Putin’s adult daughters, Mariya Putina and Katerina Tikhonova, the United States targets Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin; the wife and children of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov; and members of the Russian Security Council, including Dmitry Medvedev, former president and prime minister.
The sanctions cut off all close members of Putin’s family from the US financial system and freeze any assets they hold in the United States.
Biden was expected to sign an executive order that would bar Americans from further investment in Russia, wherever they live. The US Treasury Department is preparing new sanctions against Russian state-owned companies, according to the White House.
Britain announced asset freezes targeting Sberbank and the Credit Bank of Moscow and named eight Russian oligarchs that Putin, it says, is “using to prop up his wartime economy”.
“Together with our allies, we are showing the Russian elite that they cannot wash their hands of the atrocities committed on Putin’s orders,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said.
Britain had already announced a plan to phase out Russian oil, which accounts for 8% of Britain’s supply. Russia is the main supplier of imported coal to the UK, although UK demand for the dirty fuel has fallen over the past decade.
Britain has not halted imports of Russian natural gas, which accounts for 4% of its supply, saying only that it will do so “as soon as possible”.
Videos and images of bodies on the streets of Bucha after it was recaptured from Russian forces have sparked outrage among Western allies, who have crafted new sanctions in response.
The European Commission’s proposed ban on coal imports would be the first EU sanction aimed at Russia’s lucrative energy industry over its war in Ukraine.
EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said energy was key to Putin’s war chests. And because the war pushed prices up, Russia took advantage of the opportunity to sell its natural gas and oil to the rest of the world.
“A billion euros is what we pay Putin every day for the energy he has provided us since the beginning of the war. We gave him 35 billion euros. Compare that to the billion we gave Ukraine in guns and arms,” Borrell said.
The steady escalation of sanctions is less a sign of their shortcomings than mounting pressure on Russia as it seeks foreign investment and commodities, Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, told reporters. , during a Wednesday breakfast. “We need to be patient and step back when it comes to the impacts on Russia of this unprecedented and crippling sanctions regime,” Deese said at the event sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.
Deese noted that Russian inflation is 2% per week, which would push annual inflation above 200% per year. He noted that the Biden administration expects Russian prices to ultimately rise no more than 200% this year.
While the White House said Russia should not attend the G-20 meeting in Indonesia in November, it noted that it could leave the organization anyway because its economy has shrunk dramatically.
After several European countries announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats, the European Commission proposed a fifth sanctions package including a coal import ban that could be passed once unanimously approved by ambassadors from the 27-nation bloc .
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the coal ban was worth 4 billion euros ($4.4 billion) a year and the EU had already started working on additional sanctions , especially on oil imports.
She did not mention natural gas, with consensus among the 27 EU countries on targeting the fuel used to generate electricity and heat hard-to-secure homes amid opposition from dependent members of the gas like Germany, the largest economy in the bloc.
But European Council President Charles Michel said the bloc should keep up the pressure on the Kremlin, suggesting a gas import embargo might also be required at some point in the future.
“The new package includes a ban on coal imports,” Michel said on Wednesday. “I think that action on oil, and even gas, will also be needed, sooner or later.”
Petrequin reported from Brussels. Associated Press writers Zeke Miller in Washington and Jill Lawless in London contributed reporting.