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Biden administration announces ‘swift and severe’ sanctions on Russia

Sept. 30, 2022 Updated Fri., Sept. 30, 2022 at 9:27 p.m.

From left, the Moscow-appointed heads of Kherson region Vladimir Saldo and Zaporizhzhia region Yevgeny Balitsky, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Donetsk separatist leader Denis Pushilin and Lugansk separatist leader Leonid Pasechnik react after signing treaties formally annexing four regions of Ukraine at the Kremlin in Moscow on Friday.  (TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE)
From left, the Moscow-appointed heads of Kherson region Vladimir Saldo and Zaporizhzhia region Yevgeny Balitsky, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Donetsk separatist leader Denis Pushilin and Lugansk separatist leader Leonid Pasechnik react after signing treaties formally annexing four regions of Ukraine at the Kremlin in Moscow on Friday. (TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE)
By Yasmeen Abutaleb Washington Post

The Biden administration announced a new round of sanctions on Russia on Friday in response to Moscow’s illegal annexation of four Ukrainian territories, imposing penalties on government officials and their family members, Russian and Belarusian military officials, and defense procurement networks.

The United States said it was sending a “clear warning” that there will be costs for any individual, entity or country that provides political or economic support to Russia. Three agencies – the Treasury, Commerce and State Departments – are imposing “swift and severe costs” on Russia, the administration said.

The annexations amount to one of the most provocative actions taken by Russian President Vladimir Putin since the outset of his war against Ukraine, and it has been widely condemned as illegal. The United States and other democracies are seeking to send a forceful message that the move is unacceptable, though it is not clear what impact the response will have on Moscow, which appears determined to forge ahead in its efforts to capture Ukrainian territory.

“Russia is violating international law, trampling on the United Nations Charter, and showing its contempt for peaceful nations everywhere,” President Biden said in a statement Friday. “Make no mistake: these actions have no legitimacy.”

He added: “The United States will always honor Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders. We will continue to support Ukraine’s efforts to regain control of its territory by strengthening its hand militarily and diplomatically.”

Putin on Friday proclaimed the annexation of the four Ukrainian regions – Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – in open violation of international law. Biden had delivered a harsh rebuke of the staged referendums Putin carried out over the past week in the occupied regions, which Putin has used as a pretext to add legitimacy to the annexations.

In declaring that the Ukrainian regions are now part of its territory, Russia has warned that it would respond to any attacks on the seized territories as if they were Russia proper, potentially even with nuclear weapons. Western leaders have said they do not recognize the regions as anything other than Ukrainian territory and will continue to help Kyiv defend them.

The United States and its allies had already announced extensive sanctions on Russia and many of its leading officials, as well as countries or companies that aid its war effort.

Friday’s penalties were an effort to ramp up those sanctions and demonstrate a particular objection to a powerful nation unilaterally swallowing the territory of a neighbor, which Western countries see as an especially egregious violation of the international consensus that emerged after World War II.

The Treasury and Commerce departments announced increased sanctions and export control risks for anyone inside or outside of Russia who aids in the annexation effort. Treasury also sanctioned 14 international suppliers for supporting Russian military supply chains, and designated 109 additional State Duma members along with 169 members of Federation Council, the lower and upper houses of Russia’s legislature.

The State Department announced that it was imposing visa restrictions on Ochur-Suge Mongush “for a gross violation of human rights perpetrated against a Ukrainian prisoner of war.” Mongush has been named in news accounts as a Russian who tortured a Ukrainian prisoner.

The State Department said similar restrictions applied to 910 other individuals, including members of the Russian Federation military, Belarusian military officials and Russia’s proxies that violated Ukraine’s sovereignty.

Treasury also designated Elvira Sakhipzadovna Nabiullina, a former adviser to Putin and governor of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, as well as Olga Nikolaevna Skorobogatova, the central bank’s first deputy governor.

Officials say sanctions on powerful individuals and family members can be particularly effective. The United States on Friday also sanctioned relatives of members of Russia’s National Security Council, including Russian Prime Minister Mishustin’s wife and two adult children and Defense Minister Sergei Kuzhugetovich Shoigu’s wife and adult children.

The United States is also working with other countries to ramp up their sanctions as well.

“I urge all members of the international community to reject Russia’s illegal attempts at annexation and to stand with the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes,” Biden said.

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