World

European sanctions target Putin’s inner circle


BRUSSELS – Western leaders have sought to prevent an all-out Russian invasion of Ukraine by punishing prominent members of the country. President Vladimir V. PutinRounded in on Wednesday, imposing new sanctions and promising worse ones if the Kremlin initiates a new military offensive.

European Union unveils new sanctions against Russian Defense Minister, Sergei K. Shoigu; Putin’s chief of staff Anton Vaino; and famous Russians in the media world. The White House also announced another round of sanctions, about the company that builds the gas pipeline connecting Russia with Germany.

European officials say the sanctions are the first step toward punishing those involved in Monday’s recognition of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk republics, which the bloc considers a breach of integrity territory of Ukraine.

In the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, civilian and military leaders prepared for all-out war as reservists were called in, officials prepared to declare a 30-day state of emergency and the government urges Ukrainian citizens in Russia to leave the country. Russia’s foreign ministry said it would evacuate diplomats from Ukraine and Mr Putin, in a video speech released Wednesday, remained defiant to Western measures, saying it was in Russia’s interest to “unconditional.”

The threat of a larger Russian invasion of Ukraine, beyond separatist-controlled areas in the east of the country, remains, US officials said, US officials say, the threat of a larger Russian invasion of Ukraine remains. Wednesday.

While the United States has not observed Russian military assets in parts of Ukraine outside of separatist-controlled areas, and the timing of any further action is not clear to U.S. intelligence, the staging of forces in Belarus and the Ukrainian border would mean a full-scale invasion. Officials said in the coming days remains a real possibility.

On Tuesday, the EU, UK and US imposed an initial round of economic sanctions against Russia for recognizing breakaway regions, including penalties for Russian legislators and Germany stops certifying gas pipelinesan $11 billion project called Nord Stream 2, for the indefinite future.

On Wednesday, Mr. Biden announced sanctions against the Russian company that built the pipeline and its officers.

The US sanctions announced a day earlier included penalties against three sons of senior officials close to Putin and two state-owned banks, seeking to keep them out of most international commercial activities, as well as limiting Russia’s ability to increase revenue by issuing titles. debt.

US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman spoke with top European diplomats on Wednesday to further coordinate economic sanctionsThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Mr Blinken spoke with Liz Truss, Britain’s foreign secretary, to discuss cooperation “to take swift and severe economic measures against Russia”, the Foreign Office said in a summary of the call. their. Ms. Sherman was on at least three calls at midday – one with her counterparts from France, Germany, Italy and Britain, another with the foreign minister of Liechtenstein, and a third with the deputy secretary-general of NATO. and three officials from other European multinationals. security organisations.

It is not clear how frustrated these measures will be for Putin and his advisers. Russia has deployed up to 190,000 troops along the border with Ukraine and its breakaway regions, according to US and Ukrainian officials, who said the forces appear ready. Attack the country from the north, east and south.

And Mr. Putin has strengthen Russia’s ability to resist sanctions in recent years, reducing the use of dollars, hoarding reserve currencies, and reorienting trade away from Western imports.

However, Western officials hope the measures will strike at the lifestyles of Russia’s top officials. Josep Borrell Fontelles, the European Union’s head of foreign policy, wrote a remarkable tweet on Tuesday about how sanctions would affect some Russian elites. “Not anymore: Shop in Milano Party at SaintTropez Diamonds in Antwerp,” he wrote. “This is the first step.” Tweet is was later deleted.

Two prominent individuals on the list are Maria Zakharova, Director of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spokesperson of the Ministry; and Margarita Simonyan, head of the RT television network.

Russia’s top military leader and senior executives from the state-owned VTB Bank, which were not listed in the sanctions package, as well as several other media figures that the European Union considered “propaganda”.

Yevgeny Prigozhin – a Russian businessman with close ties to Mr Putin, who owns, among other things, the group of Wagner mercenaries – has been placed on the EU sanctions list along with several members of his family .

The sanctions mean individuals will be banned from traveling to the European Union and their assets will be frozen – although an asset freeze can be difficult to do, given the European banking system willing to hide Russian wealth in complex property structures.

The several-hundred-page sanctions package also includes a ban on the import of dozens of goods and services, as well as a ban on Russia’s ability to raise capital in Europe’s capital markets through short-term bonds. and long term.

The United States and its allies are still seeking a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis, the State Department said.

However, they also agree that “Russia’s blatant disregard for international law requires a strong response from the international community and agreement to closely coordinate next steps, including in major additional economic sanctions, if Russia continues to escalate its aggression against Ukraine. ”

Julian Barnes Contribution report from Washington.



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