US sanctions Russia’s Putin, top officials over Ukraine invasion

Russian President Putin meets representatives of the business community in Moscow
FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives for a meeting with representatives of the business community at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia February 24, 2022. Sputnik / Aleksey Nikolskyi / Kremlin via REUTERS

February 26, 2022

By Andrea Shalal, Steve Holland and Daphne Psaledakis

(Reuters) – The U.S. government on Friday joined European countries in imposing sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as Western nations seek to increase pressure on Moscow to prevent it. stop the invasion of Ukraine.

The US imposition of rare but not unprecedented sanctions on a head of state comes just a day after Russian forces invaded Ukraine, attacking it by land, sea and air. not in the biggest attack by one country against another in Europe since the Second World War.

“President Putin and Minister Lavrov are directly responsible for Russia’s unprovoked and unlawful aggression into Ukraine, a sovereign democratic country,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement late in the day. Friday announced the sanctions.

It said sanctions against a head of state were “extremely rare” and put Putin on a short list that included the leaders of North Korea, Syria and Belarus. Other actions may follow.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters that President Joe Biden decided to target Putin, Lavrov and other officials after speaking by phone with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen earlier. on Friday.

The Treasury Department said the moves build on a series of other sanctions imposed this week targeting Russian banks and wealthy oligarchs, leaving Russia inaccessible to technology. and limits the country’s ability to raise capital.

Earlier, on Friday, EU nations and Britain agreed to freeze any European assets of Putin and Lavrov, as the Ukrainian leader pleaded for faster and stronger sanctions to punish him. penalize Russia’s aggression against his country.

The RIA news agency quoted a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying on Friday that the imposition of sanctions on Putin and Lavrov reflects the “absolute helplessness” of the West when it comes to foreign policy. foreign.

Edward Fishman, a member of the Atlantic Council who worked on Russia sanctions at the State Department during the Obama administration, said that although the sanctions against Putin were largely symbolic , but targeting the Russian leader is a logical step for the United States and its partners to take.

“It certainly sends a very strong message of solidarity with Ukrainians who are being fired,” Fishman said.

The US government has also sanctioned two other senior Russian officials, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Treasury Department said.

Psaki said on Twitter that the Treasury Department will also impose sanctions on Russia’s Direct Investment Fund, which she describes as a “state-owned financial institution operating as a fund sovereign property, which is supposed to attract capital to the Russian economy at high-growth sectors. ”

A Treasury Department spokesman said action against the Russian Direct Investment Fund would take place in the coming days.

“We stand in solidarity with our allies and international partners to ensure Russia pays a heavy economic and diplomatic price for its continued aggression into Ukraine,” Finance Minister Janet Yellen said. . “If necessary, we are ready to impose additional costs on Russia for its appalling behavior on the world stage.”

The Treasury Department, which has appointed 11 members of Russia’s Security Council, said it would continue to target Russian elites for “their role in promoting further Russian aggression against Ukraine, empower Putin or join the Russian military regime.”

Putin called on Ukraine’s military to oust political leaders and negotiate peace on Friday, as authorities in Kyiv appealed to citizens to help defend the capital against a Russian attack that the country’s mayor announced. This said has begun.

The sanctions against Putin are Washington’s latest punitive action over Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine.

The United States this week imposed sanctions on Russian banks, members of the elite and the company in charge of building the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 undersea gas pipeline connecting Russia and Germany.

Responding to reports that the US government had ordered officials to stop most communications with Russia, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the invasion of Ukraine had “fundamentally changed” relations with Russia. Moscow with Washington and other countries.

Price told reporters that US officials will continue to engage with their Russian counterparts on important national security issues, including negotiations to return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Russia. Iran.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal, Steve Holland, Daphne Psaledakis, Trevor Hunnicutt, Humeyra Pamuk, Simon Lewis and David Lawder in Washington, and Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Tim Ahmann, Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler)) US sanctions Russia’s Putin, top officials over Ukraine invasion

Bobby Allyn

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