Russian Oligarchs and Banks have been hit with heavy sanctions by the United States of America, hours after the United Kingdom and Europe announced a series of sanctions against Russia over unrest in Ukraine.
President Joe Biden had on Tuesday announced a series of sanctions on Russian oligarchs and banks. The U.S President also held back on the toughest sanctions that could cause economic turmoil for Russia but said they would go ahead if there is further aggression.
The measures, accompanied by the repositioning of additional U.S. troops to the Baltic nations on NATO’s eastern flank bordering Russia, came as Russian forces rolled into rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine after Putin said he was recognizing the independence of the separatist region in defiance of U.S. and European demands.
Announcing the sanctions imposed on the Russian oligarchs and banks, Biden said the Kremlin had flagrantly violated international law in what he called the “beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.” He warned of more sanctions if Putin went further.
“We are united in our support of Ukraine,” Biden said. “We are united in our opposition to Russian aggression.” When it comes to Russian claims of a justification or pretext for an invasion, Biden said, “None of us should be fooled. None of us will be fooled. There is no justification.
Hopes for a diplomatic resolution to the threat of invasion, which U.S. officials have for weeks portrayed as all but inevitable, appeared to evaporate. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelled plans for a Thursday meeting in Geneva with his Russian counterpart, saying it would not be productive and that Russia’s actions indicated Moscow was not serious about a peaceful path to resolving the crisis.
Western nations sought to present a united front, with more than two dozen European Union members unanimously agreeing to levy their own initial set of sanctions against Russian officials. Germany also said it was halting the process of certifying the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia — a lucrative deal long sought by Moscow but criticized by the U.S. for increasing Europe’s reliance on Russian energy.
The U.S., meanwhile, moved to cut off Russia’s government from Western finance, sanctioning two of its banks and blocking it from trading in its debt on American and European markets. The administration’s actions hit civilian leaders in Russia’s leadership hierarchy and two Russian banks considered especially close to the Kremlin and Russia’s military, with more than $80 billion in assets. That includes freezing all of those bank’s assets under U.S. jurisdictions.
Biden, though, did hold back some of the broadest and toughest of the financial penalties contemplated by the U.S., including sanctions that would reinforce the hold that Germany put on any startup of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline; an export ban that would deny Russia U.S. high-tech for its industries and military; and sweeping bans that could cripple Russia’s ability to do business with the rest of the world.
Biden said he was moving additional U.S. troops to the Baltics, though he described the actions as purely “defensive,” asserting, “We have no intention of fighting Russia.” The U.S. is sending about 800 infantry troops and 40 attack aircraft to the Baltics and NATO’s eastern flank from other locations within Europe, according to a senior defence official. In addition, a contingent of F-35 strike fighters and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters will also be relocated.
The EU announced initial sanctions aimed at the 351 Russian lawmakers who voted for recognizing separatist regions in Ukraine, as well as 27 other Russian officials and institutions from the defence and banking sectors. They also sought to limit Moscow’s access to EU capital and financial markets.