WASHINGTON (AP) – The United States on Wednesday imposed a new wave of financial sanctions against Russia, which President Joe Biden said would lead to long sentences. on the country’s economy.
The United Kingdom quickly followed suit, and the European Union felt more pain as the Allies continued to escalate a campaign to tighten economic nuts against Russian President Vladimir Putin for “war crimes” in Ukraine.
The personal nature of the US sanctions highlighted Putin’s family, targeting his two adult daughters, as well as blocking two key Russian banks.
Biden said that “Russia has already failed in its initial war” after the country’s forces were withdrawn from the Ukrainian capital Kiev. However, he warned that “this struggle is far from over.”
“This war may continue for a long time,” but the United States will continue to stand with Ukraine and Ukrainians in the struggle for freedom, Biden said. “We are going to stifle Russia’s ability to grow for years to come.”
Recent sanctions underscore the financial pain facing Russia, as evidence that its troops have killed Ukrainian civilians has led to increasingly harsh punishments by the United States and its Western allies, which undermine Putin’s ability to fight.
While rounds of tightening sanctions have not forced Putin out of the war, they have put Russia in increasingly desperate economic circumstances as Ukrainian forces withstand its barrage. The key to effective sanctions has been unity between the United States and European countries. And the atrocities uncovered in Ukraine have increased pressure on Germany and other countries to go further and join the United States and Lithuania in blocking all Russian energy exports.
Britain on Wednesday froze the assets of major banks, banned British investment in Russia and promised to end its dependence on Russian coal and oil by the end of the year.
The EU was expected to take further steps soon, including a ban on new investment in Russia and an embargo on coal, following recent evidence of atrocities stemming from the retreat of Russian troops from the city of Bucha.
The U.S. acted against Russia’s two largest banks, Sberbank and Alfa-Bank, by banning assets from passing through the U.S. financial system and banning Americans from doing business with the two institutions.
In addition to sanctions against Putin’s adult daughters Maria Putin and Ekaterina Tikhonova, the United States is targeting Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin; wife and children of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov; and members of the Russian Security Council, including former President and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
The fines cut off all close members of Putin’s family from the U.S. financial system and freeze all assets they hold in the United States.
Biden was expected to sign an ordinance banning new investments in Russia by Americans no matter where they live. The US Treasury Department is preparing new sanctions against Russian state-owned enterprises, the White House reports.
Britain has announced an asset freeze against Sberbank and the Credit Bank of Moscow and has identified eight Russian oligarchs, whom it said Putin was “using to support his military economy.”
“Together with our allies, we are showing the Russian elite that they cannot wash their hands of the atrocities committed on Putin’s orders,” said British Foreign Secretary Liz Trass.
The UK has already announced a plan to phase out Russian oil, which accounts for 8% of supplies to the UK. Russia is a major supplier of imported coal to the UK, although British demand for fuel, which pollutes the environment, has fallen sharply over the past decade.
Britain has not stopped importing Russian natural gas, which accounts for 4% of its supplies, saying only that it will do so “as soon as possible.”
Videos and images of bodies in the streets of Bucha after being repulsed by Russian troops sparked a wave of outrage among Western allies, who imposed new sanctions in response.
The ban on coal imports proposed by the European Commission would be the first EU sanctions against Russia’s lucrative energy industry over its war in Ukraine.
EU Foreign Minister Joseph Barrel said energy was the key to Putin’s military coffers. And as the war pushed prices, Russia benefited from the opportunity to sell its natural gas and oil to the rest of the world.
“One billion euros is what we pay Putin every day for the energy he has given us since the beginning of the war. We gave him 35 billion euros. Compare it with the billion we gave to Ukraine in arms and weapons, ”Barel said.
The constant tightening of sanctions is less a sign of their shortcomings than the pressure on Russia, which is looking for foreign investment and basic goods, Brian Deez, director of the White House National Economic Council, told reporters at a breakfast Wednesday. “We need to have patience and prospects when it comes to the impact on Russia of this unprecedented and crippling sanctions regime,” Deez said at an event hosted by The Christian Science Monitor.
Diz noted that Russian inflation is 2% per week, which will join the annual inflation above 200% per year. He noted that the Biden administration expects that Russian prices will not eventually rise by more than 200% this year.
While the White House said Russia should not attend the G-20 summit in Indonesia in November this year, he noted that it could still leave the organization because its economy has shrunk so dramatically.
After several European countries announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats, the European Commission proposed a fifth package of sanctions, including a ban on coal imports, which could be adopted after the unanimous approval of the ambassadors of 27 countries.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the ban on coal was 4 billion euros ($ 4.4 billion) a year and that the EU had already begun work on additional sanctions, including on oil imports.
She did not mention natural gas, with a consensus among the 27 EU countries on fuels used to generate electricity and heat for homes that are difficult to provide amid opposition from gas-dependent members such as Germany, the bloc’s largest economy.
But European Council President Charles Michel said the bloc should continue to put pressure on the Kremlin, believing that at some point in the future it would also be necessary to impose an embargo on gas imports.
“The new package includes a ban on coal imports,” Michel said on Wednesday. “I think sooner or later we will also need measures on oil, and even on gas.”
Petrequin reported from Brussels. Associated Press writers Zick Miller of Washington and Jill Lawless of London contributed to the report.