The United States and European Union countries have announced a new package of sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Ukraine. The measures reach the two daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Maria and Katarina. Meanwhile, European leaders seek to end their countries’ energy dependence on Moscow.
Fifth package of sanctions
Washington announced that new battery of sanctions against Moscow contains “devastating economic measures” and specified that one of the main banking institutions and several state-owned companies will receive the most severe financial penalties. The White House also reported that Russian government officials and their families are also included in measures seeking to punish Russia for invading Ukraine.
The sanctions were adopted together with the countries that make up the G7 and the European Union (EU). The package includes a complete freeze on the assets of Russia’s largest financial institution, Sberbank, and Alfa Bank in the United States, its main private bank. At the same time, US citizens are prohibited from doing business with either entity. In the coming days, President Joe Biden will sign an executive order limiting new investment in Russia for Americans, regardless of which country they are in. From the house of the Biden government they specified that the measure aims to make Russia more isolated from the world economy and has had the support of more than 600 multinationals who have decided to leave the Russian market.
The United States has also vetoed American transactions with Russian state-owned companies. and they froze their assets under the jurisdiction of the North American country. It is expected that Tomorrow the Treasury Department will reveal the names of the sanctioned companies.
Sanctions on the Kremlin and on the family
Biden has included the Putin family in the sanctions. The US government expelled from its financial system and froze the assets of Russian officials and their families. Putin’s adult daughters Maria and Kayerina are included in this measure, as are the wife and daughter of the Kremlin Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. and members of the Russian Security Council, including former President Dimitri Medvedev and current Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.
“These individuals got rich at the expense of Russian citizens” and “some of them are tasked with providing the necessary support for Putin’s war in Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement. The US Treasury has prohibited Russia from making debt payments with funds under its jurisdiction.
Western countries are also trying to reduce their dependence on Russian energy and are in favor of a Russian gas embargo. “These sanctions will not be the last. Yes, we have banned (the import of) coal, but now we have to look at oil and we will have to look at the income that Russia gets from these fossil fuels.” stressed Von der Leyen in front of the European Parliament. While the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, urged everyone to do everything possible to stop the atrocities occurring in the former Soviet republic. “We are tightening the sanctions to maintain maximum pressure on the Kremlin. The new sanctions package bans imports of Russian coal and I think measures will be needed sooner or later on Russian oil and even gas, “said Michel.
This was warned by the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, Josep Borrell Brussels has sent about one billion euros from the European Fund in support of peace, on the other hand it has also bought energy from Moscow and for an amount of 35 billion euros. “Our independence, our energy autonomy, goes through the development of renewable energy and, for once, geopolitics and climate change go hand in hand in a common goal,” said Borrell.
EU countries import half of the energy they consume. From Moscow they buy 46.7 per cent of the coal it uses, 40 per cent of its gas and 27 per cent of its oil. In 2021, these exports meant € 99 billion in revenue for Russia.
Downing Street Sanctions
The British government has announced that it will stop importing Russian coal by the end of the year. Boris Johnson’s administration also revealed that it intends to ban British investments in Russia. Johnson referred to the deaths in Bucha and used the term genocide although his government avoids using it.
“If you look at what is happening in Bucha, at the revelations about what (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is doing in Ukraine, in my opinion it doesn’t seem far from genocide,” the conservative leader said.
The UK also joined the fifth package of sanctions imposed on Moscow and froze the assets of the Sberbank and Moscow Credit Bank entities. In this sense, Johnson’s foreign ministry reported that the goal of the measures is to end energy dependence on the Kremlin.
Next week London will approve a legal instrument next week to veto the import of steel products (a key source of income for Moscow); and will restrict the sale to Russian companies of products related to quantum technologies, related, inter alia, to cryptography and communications. “We are raising the bar for our campaign to end (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s terrible war with some of our toughest sanctions,” British Foreign Minister Liz Truss said.
Germany for energy independence
For his part, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has ratified the determination to free Germany from Russian energy dependence. In parliament, the head of government also accused Russia of war crimes for the death of Ukrainian civilians. The Bundestag had already condemned the Bucha massacre.
“Our aim is to equip ourselves with liquefied gas terminals as soon as possible”Scholz said. The European country does not have any liquefied gas terminals that would allow it to do without importing Russian gas. Despite this, the Greens’ Economy Minister Robert Habeck revealed that Berlin has managed to reduce Russian gas imports from 55% to 40% in recent weeks. Meanwhile, the foreign minister, the green Annalena Baerbock, confirmed that the government is determined to “completely cut the energy dependence” on Russia.
Terror in Bucha
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the finding of the bodies in Bucha is a “gross and cynical provocation by the Kiev regime”. It is the first time that the Russian president refers to the events recorded this week in a town near Kyiv. Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said it was a “horrible staging”. “Undoubtedly, the horrific staging in Bucha is necessary and should be investigated,” Peskov told reporters. The spokesman also stressed the need for the investigation to take place “in an impartial and independent manner”.
Although China called Bucha’s images “deeply disturbing,” it did not blame Russia for the events. According to the spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian, the accusations must be based on facts and he asked not to confuse the humanitarian situation with politics. “All parties should show restraint and avoid baseless accusations before the investigation results are made public,” the Chinese spokesman insisted. Zhao said Beijing is “ready to continue working together with the international community to prevent any harm to civilians”.
From the Vatican, Pope Francis denounced the “new atrocities, such as the Bucha massacre”. “The recent news about the war in Ukraine, rather than bringing relief and hope, instead shows new atrocities, such as the Bucha massacre”denounced the pontiff during the Wednesday general audience in the Holy See.
Francisco referred to the images that have circulated about what happened in Bucha and said that they show “increasingly horrendous cruelty, committed against defenseless civilians, women and children”. “They are victims, and their innocent blood cries out to heaven and begs for an end to this war, to silence the weapons, to stop sowing blood and destruction,” Bergoglio said.