The United States and its European allies announced Friday that they would increase sanctions against Russia’s invasion in Ukraine. They will add measures directly targeting President Vladimir Putin, his foreign minister, and diplomatic appeals to the other as Russia closes down Ukraine’s capital.
Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, stated that the United States, Britain, and the European Union sent a “clear message about the strength the opposition to the actions of Putin”. The sanctions came as part of growing international condemnation of the offensive.
When asked by reporters whether President Joe Biden had made any further diplomatic overtures to Putin, whose air and ground forces are pushing an offensive against key cities in Ukraine, Psaki replied no.
Psaki said that “a moment when a leader… is in the middle of invadeding a sovereign nation is not the moment when diplomacy feels appropriate.” It does not necessarily mean that diplomacy is out of reach forever.
Psaki claimed that the U.S. was planning individual sanctions against Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. These could include travel bans. This announcement was made hours after the European Union had announced that it would freeze Putin’s assets. Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister, told NATO leaders that his country would also sanction Putin or Lavrov.
Psaki stated that the U.S. would sanction the Russian Direct Investment Fund. This fund functions as a sovereign wealth and is meant to attract capital into the Russian economy.
The U.S., European and NATO allies announced Thursday that they would impose asset freezes and other penalties on Russia’s banks and state-owned enterprises, elites, and banks. However, they did not spare Russia’s foreign minister and leader.
An American official spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal talks between the Biden administration and the Biden administration on the matter. He said that there was some debate within the administration about including Lavrov into the sanctions. Some wanted to make sure diplomatic contact would continue to be possible.
Although the sanctions would not prohibit contact between Putin and Biden or U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Lavrov and Biden respectively, they placed a new damper on weeks of diplomatic efforts to stop Russia from building up its forces at Ukraine’s borders. Lavrov was included in the debate, which is why the individual sanctions weren’t announced along with the other measures on Thursday.
Oksana Markarova (the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S.), said that the decision by the allies to freeze Putin’s assets was the right one.
“It was President Putin who decided to attack Ukraine. Markarova said that Putin was responsible for the war the Russian Federation is waging against us.
Friday’s U.S. sanctions block Putin and Lavrov (whom the Treasury Department’s formal notice of the sanctions called Putin’s “chief propagandist”) from accessing any assets that are within the reach of U.S. officials. They also prohibit anyone from doing business in the United States with them. Also, members of Russia’s Security Council were sanctioned.
It was not clear what the practical consequences of the men’s actions would have on them and what their European assets were.
Josep Borrell, EU chief of foreign affairs, stated that “if you have major assets and suddenly you can’t get them,” it would cost you.
EU ministers stated that further sanctions are still possible, including the expulsion of Russia from SWIFT, which is the dominant system for international financial transactions.
Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister, stated that the SWIFT debate is not over and will continue.
The Council of Europe warned Russia and suspended Russia from its top-ranking human rights organization on the continent. According to the 47-nation council, Russia is still a member of the Council of Europe and continues to be bound by relevant human rights conventions.
Russia was not discouraged by the game of punitive sanction and started its own tit for tat measures to ban British flights over its territory. This was in response to an identical U.K. ban that banned Aeroflot flights.
Russian authorities announced the “partial restrictions” on Facebook access after several Kremlin-backed media had their accounts blocked by the social media platform.
Despite the Kremlin being focused on increasing the attacks against Ukraine, nearly all of the action was still moving in one direction.
Threats were flying from all directions and running through society in terms that were unheard since Cold War.
Pope Francis visited the Russian Embassy in a show of anger. The Vatican stated that this was a sign of papal anger. This was a unique gesture that was done directly, as popes usually receive ambassadors or heads of state at the Vatican.
The Super Bowl of European soccer, the UEFA Champions League final on May 28, was canceled in St. Petersburg. It will be moved to Paris. Formula One has withdrawn the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi this season.
Pop culture is also affected by the fact that Russia was banned from the Eurovision finals in Turin in May.
Asia and the Pacific countries have joined the U.S., EU and other West-based nations in imposing punitive measures on Russian banks and top companies. They have also established export controls to stop Russia from importing semiconductors and other high tech products into their industries and military.
Prime Minister Fumio Kirishida stated to reporters that Japan must be clear about its position and declare that it will not tolerate any attempt at changing the status quo with force.
Taiwan announced Friday it would join economic sanctions. However, it didn’t specify what they would be. They could be focused on the export control of semiconductor chips. Taiwan is the largest producer.
Although most countries in Asia supported Ukraine, China continued to condemn sanctions against Russia and blame the U.S. along with its allies for provocation. China, concerned about the rise of America in Asia, has been aligning its foreign policy more closely with Russia to counter the West.
Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, complained that “the Chinese government is following through with easing trade restrictions against Russia and that’s simply unacceptable.” “You don’t throw a lifeline for Russia during a time when they’re invading another nation.”