US targets Russia with sanctions, Moscow says measures won’t work
By Steve Holland, Jonathan Landay and Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Friday marked the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with $2 billion worth of weapons for Kiev and new sanctions against Russia aimed at undermining Moscow’s ability to wage war.
US President Joe Biden’s administration unveiled the sanctions as the Group of 7 wealthy nations and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met to discuss more aid.
Measures included imposing visa restrictions on Russian military personnel, freezing assets of President Vladimir Putin’s allies, effectively banning aluminum imports from Russia, restricting Russian banking and arms manufacturing activities, and shutting down the country’s second-biggest mobile phone company, Megafon a trade blacklist.
Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the United States, said the sanctions would have no effect.
Additional measures could be imposed at a later date, US officials said.
The government also sent a message to China and other countries not to try to help Russia circumvent sanctions.
“We will sanction additional actors associated with Russia’s defense and technology industries, including those responsible for replenishing Russian stocks of sanctioned goods or enabling Russian sanctions circumvention,” the White House said.
Aid to Ukraine was insufficient to provide the F-16 fighter jets requested by Kiev, and some US officials question the ability of such measures to slow rising hostilities on the battlefield ahead of an expected spring offensive.
Antonov said the new sanctions were “thoughtless” and designed to make Russia suffer.
“Does anyone really believe that this is the way to get our country to abandon its independent policies, to divert it from its current path of building a multipolar world based on the principle of indivisible security, international law and the UN Charter? ‘ a post on the embassy’s Facebook page quoted him as saying.
After the G7 meeting, leaders issued a statement of “our unwavering support for Ukraine for as long as necessary,” including other potential sanctions.
European Union countries later overcome internal disagreements and announced a 10th round of sanctions.
The US State Department’s sanctions included Russian cabinet ministers and dozens of governors and regional chiefs.
The US Treasury Department’s new measures hit 22 Russian individuals and 83 entities, adding to more than 2,500 sanctions imposed last year.
Increased US tariffs will also be levied on more than 100 Russian metals, minerals and chemical products worth about $2.8 billion for Russia.
The United States also planned to announce $250 million in aid to shore up Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in the face of Russian attacks. Ukraine’s neighbor Moldova will get $300 million to wean itself off energy dependency on Russia.
Prosecutors announced moves to charge a Russian citizen with illegally exporting counterintelligence equipment and to seize the $75 million Park Avenue, New York apartment and other property belonging to Putin aide Viktor Vekselberg which Washington last imposed sanctions in 2022.
While several rounds of Western sanctions have hurt Russia’s economy, Putin can still fund his war. This has led officials to increasingly focus on third parties helping Russia dodge sanctions.
The Treasury included penalties against more than 30 individuals and companies from Switzerland, Germany and other nations for helping Moscow fund its war against Ukraine.
The Commerce Ministry, meanwhile, is imposing export restrictions on nearly 90 Russian and third-country companies, including those in China, for complicity in dodging sanctions supporting Russia’s defense sector, and banning them from buying items such as semiconductors. And they are working to prevent components found in Iranian drones from reaching the Ukrainian battlefield, officials said.
Washington has warned without evidence that China is considering supplying arms to Russia. China said more guns would make the conflict worse.
The Biden administration pledged more than $32 billion in military aid to Ukraine last year, including 8,500 Javelin anti-tank systems and 38 highly mobile artillery rocket systems (HIMARS), as well as a number of different types of drones, the Defense Department said.
(Reporting by Steve Holland, Jonathan Landay, Andrea Shalal, Doina Chiacu, Susan Heavey, Phil Stewart, Idrees Ali, and Karen Freifeld in Washington, Luc Cohen in New York, David Ljunggren in Ottawa, and Elaine Monaghan in Bloomington, IN; Editing by Trevor Hunnicutt, Grant McCool and Kim Coghill)