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From US To Germany, West Announces Sanctions On Russia For Ukraine

World leaders hit back at Russia with sanctions for President Vladimir Putin's order to send troops to separatist regions of Ukraine.

Updated: February 23, 2022 11:21 AM IST

By News Desk | Edited by Snigdha Choudhury

Russia, Ukraine, Russia Ukraine crisis, US, Germany, European Union, Putin Joe Biden, Kyiv, Moscow
This Maxar satellite image taken on February 21, 2022 and released on February 22, 2022 shows a close-up of a field hospital and troop deployment in western Belgorod, Russia. (Photo: AFP)

New Delhi: World leaders hit back at Russia with sanctions for President Vladimir Putin’s order to send troops to separatist regions of Ukraine. US President Joe Biden announced financial sanctions on banks and oligarchs as punishment for what he called “the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.” He said the US would impose “full blocking” on two large Russian financial institutions and “comprehensive sanctions” on Russian debt.

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“That means we’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western finance. It can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade in its new debt on our markets or European markets either,” Biden said.

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Biden promised that more sanctions would be coming if Putin proceeds further. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Blinken said the sanctions announced are in line with “start high, stay high” approach.

White House deputy national security adviser Daleep Singh added that the initial sanctions send the message that “no Russian financial institution is safe if the invasion proceeds”. “No one should think that it’s our goal to max out on sanctions,” Singh said. “Sanctions are not an end of themselves. They serve a higher purpose, and that purpose is to deter and prevent.”

The two major Russian banks targeted by the US sanctions are Vnesheconombank (VEB) and Promsvyazbank Public Joint Stock Company (PSB). VEB is crucial to Russia’s ability to raise funds, and PSB is critical to Russia’s defense sector. The two hold more than $80 billion in assets combined and will be cut off from carrying out transactions in the US and European banking systems.

Meanwhile, to punish Moscow for Ukraine action, Germany took steps to halt certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia – a massive, lucrative deal long sought by Moscow.

Meanwhile, the European Union announced sanctions taking aim at the 351 Duma legislators who voted in favor of recognizing separatist regions in Ukraine, as well as 27 other Russian officials and institutions from the defense and banking world. They also sought to limit Moscow’s access to EU capital and financial markets.

“This package of sanctions..will hurt Russia and it will hurt a lot,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said after chairing a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Paris.

“We will make it as difficult as possible for the Kremlin to pursue its aggressive policies,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

Outside the EU, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson named five Russian banks and three wealthy individuals whom the UK hit with sanctions on Tuesday.

And if Putin pushes further into Ukraine, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg insisted, “there will be even stronger sanctions, even a higher price to pay.”

The US and other Western nations have pressed daily for diplomatic efforts to head off a dangerous military confrontation. But the failure of that effort was underscored Tuesday as Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled plans for a Thursday meeting in Geneva with his Russian counterpart, saying Russia’s actions showed there was no point.

Western powers have long made clear the fate of Ukraine must not lead to a direct military confrontation with Russia and the potential of a world war, so sanctions were the limited option.

“No lows too low, no lies too blatant, no red lines too red to cross,” Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said in summing up the political disgust for Putin’s actions felt by nations from Europe to North America and the democracies hugging Russia’s borders in Asia such as Japan and South Korea.

The global condemnation came amid rising skirmishes in the eastern regions of Ukraine that Western powers believe Russia could use as a pretext for an attack on the Europe-leaning democracy that has defied Moscow’s attempts to pull it back into its orbit.

With an estimated 150,000 Russian troops massed on three sides of Ukraine, the U.S. has warned that Moscow has already decided to invade. Still, Biden and Putin tentatively agreed to a possible meeting brokered by French President Emmanuel Macron in a last-ditch effort to avoid war.

(With inputs from AP)

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Published Date: February 23, 2022 6:52 AM IST

Updated Date: February 23, 2022 11:21 AM IST