US, UK and Europe step up pressure on Russia | the islander

The United States, the European Union and other allies have stepped up their economic pressure on Russia, working to deprive Moscow of privileged trade and economic treatment as punishment for its invasion of Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden said the new actions would collectively further hamper a Russian economy already weighed down by previously announced international sanctions that have cratered the ruble and forced the stock market to shut down.

Referring to the end of normal trade relations, Biden said, “Doing it in unison with other nations that make up half of the global economy will be another blow to Russia’s economy which is already suffering very badly. of our sanctions.”

The measures announced by the EU, the United States and other G7 allies constitute a fourth round of sanctions against Russia following the February 24 invasion.

They include efforts to end Moscow’s “most favored nation” trade status, opening the door to banning or imposing punitive tariffs on Russian goods and putting Russia on an equal footing with North Korea or Iran.

They will also ban the export of luxury goods from their countries to Russia, designed as a blow to Russian elites.

As a first step, the EU will ban imports of steel sector products from Russia. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU was also working to suspend Russia’s membership rights to key multilateral institutions, including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and to crack down on its use of crypto-assets.

A U.S. ban on luxury goods exports to Russia and its ally Belarus — including high-end watches, vehicles, clothing, alcohol and jewelry — takes effect immediately, the Commerce Department said.

The US Congress is expected to pass legislation to revoke Russia’s trading status, and lawmakers are moving in that direction. The United States also decided to close development funds while announcing a ban on imports of seafood, vodka and Russian diamonds. The White House has said Biden will ban U.S. investments in Russia beyond the energy sector.

Top U.S. imports from Russia included mineral fuels, precious metals and stones, iron and steel, fertilizers and inorganic chemicals, all goods that could face higher tariffs once that Congress will act to revoke Russia’s favored nation trade status.

The United States has also imposed sanctions on more Russian oligarchs, leaders and elites, targeting members of the lower house of parliament and billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, among others. Among those hit by the new sanctions are 10 VTB Bank board members, 12 State Duma members and family members of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the US Treasury Department said.

Russian forces invaded Ukraine last month in the biggest assault on a European state since World War II. Russia calls the action a “special operation”.

“Russia cannot grossly violate international law and expect to benefit from its membership in the international economic order,” the White House said in a statement.

The United States has also imposed new sanctions linked to North Korea, targeting Russian individuals and companies after US and South Korean officials said Pyongyang used its largest intercontinental ballistic missile system in two recent launches.

Meanwhile, Britain imposed sanctions on 386 Duma members and also said it would seek to ban the export of luxury goods to Russia. The EU has already sanctioned the same group of lawmakers.

Britain’s announcement said the sanctions targeted those who voted to recognize the independence of Ukraine’s largely Russian-speaking breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk on the eve of the invasion.

Australian Associated Press

Mary I. Bruner