June 9, 2023

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US imposes ‘quick and severe costs’ on Russia after Putin’s annexation of Ukraine

US imposes 'quick and severe costs' on Russia after Putin's annexation of Ukraine


The United States is imposing what it describes as “quick and severe costs” on Russia, including sanctions on a figure the Biden administration says is key to the Russian economy, after President Vladimir Putin announced the annexation from regions of Ukraine after what the West describes as “fake referendums”.

On Friday, Putin signed documents to officially begin the process of annexing four regions of Ukraine during a ceremony in the Kremlin, in apparent violation of international law amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that began seven months ago.

People familiar with the operation said that US officials have been working behind the scenes to coordinate their response with allies over the past few days and to publish it immediately upon Putin’s official action. The response represents an escalation and expansion of the most comprehensive sanctions regime ever to target a major economy, an economy that has steadily intensified over the more than seven months since the Russian invasion.

A Biden administration official said the United States is “targeting more government officials, Russian leaders and their family members, Russian and Belarusian military officials, and defense procurement networks, including international suppliers that support the Russian military-industrial complex” through announcements from the Treasury, Commerce, and State departments.

The US measures, which include a raft of export controls, visa restrictions, and asset freezes, act as an attempt to further tighten Russian supply chains — and the people who direct the effort — critical to sustaining the war effort. US officials and their allies have closely monitored Russian efforts in real time to get around sanctions already in place to limit access to vital components of the defense industry, and many new goals come from the effort.

This includes Treasury sanctions on a key player in keeping the Russian economy afloat: Elvira Nabiullina, the economist who has led the Russian Central Bank since 2013.

President Joe Biden strongly condemned Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory in a statement on Friday.

Today, the United States condemns Russia’s fraudulent attempt to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory. Biden said Russia is violating international law, trampling on the UN Charter, and showing its contempt for peaceful countries everywhere, adding that these actions “have no legitimacy” and will continue to “respect Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.”

He also urged “all members of the international community to reject Russia’s illegal attempts to annex and stand by the people of Ukraine for as long as possible.”

“The United States categorically rejects Russia’s fraudulent attempt to change Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders,” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Friday.

“We will continue strong and coordinated U.S. efforts to hold Russia accountable, isolate the Russian military from global commerce, and severely limit its ability to maintain its aggression and power,” he said.

Putin has spent years building his defenses, amassing hundreds of billions in foreign currency reserves, putting much of Russia’s industrial base under state control, and selling Russia’s vast energy resources to the world. US officials grudgingly acknowledge that Nabiullina did an effective job of running Russia during this initial phase of sanctions, just as she did in 2014 after Putin’s annexation of Crimea led to a less stringent round of sanctions from the West.

This time around, Nabiullina shrewdly raised interest rates, imposed capital controls, and sought loopholes and solutions to float an economy under siege — an effort that came even as the United States and its allies took the unprecedented step of directly targeting the central bank with sanctions soon after. invasion.

“A good central bank can do things to support the currency,” a senior US official said earlier this year. They have a very good central bank. We knew it then; We know him now.”

Among Biden administration officials, Nabiullina is seen as perhaps the most effective of all Putin’s top aides. US officials view the central bank’s efforts primarily as providing superficial cover for an economy in the midst of significant atrophy across many vital sectors. But these efforts, even as critical supply chains have collapsed, have reinforced Putin’s public messages that the Russian economy is facing a devastating sanctions storm.

The United States will also impose sanctions on Napoleon’s deputy chief at the central bank, as well as Alexander Valentinovich Novak, the deputy prime minister whom US officials consider pivotal to Russian efforts to increase Russia’s economic output despite the sanctions regime.

The United States is also imposing sanctions on relatives of Russian National Security Council members, visa restrictions on Oshur Sog Mongush for human rights abuses, imposing sanctions on 14 international suppliers to Russia’s military supply chains, and adding 57 new entities to its list of export business entities. Officials said. In addition, Blinkin announced that the State Department will impose visa restrictions “on 910 individuals, including members of the Russian Federation’s army, Belarusian military officials, and Russian agents for violating Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence.”

Senior Biden sanctions officials have deliberately targeted family members of senior Russian officials throughout the invasion in an effort to cut short efforts to conceal assets or protect them from sanctions.

The official said the United States warns that there will be “costs to any individual, entity, or country that provides political or economic support to Russia as a result of its unlawful attempts to change the status of Ukrainian territory,” including “heightened sanctions and export control risks” for individuals or entities that do so. .

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan will join Press Secretary Karen-Jean-Pierre to outline additional details about the new moves later Friday afternoon. Jean-Pierre previously warned that the United States “will mobilize global opposition to attempts to annex Russia, including at the United Nations.”

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