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Sunday, July 21, 2024

U.S. hits Russia, firms supporting Ukraine invasion with new sanctions

The new sanctions blocks banks, arms dealers and tech companies eid to weapons productions and distribution.
A virtually empty Red Square in Moscow. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

The U.S. announced a new round of sanctions on Russian firms, banks, manufacturers and people Friday, aiming them at entities that helped Russia evade sanctions earlier in the year-old war against Ukraine.

Russia’s metals and mining sector is among those targeted in one of the U.S. Treasury Department’s “most significant sanctions actions to date,” according to the agency.

The action, taken in coordination with Group of Seven allies, seeks to punish 250 people and firms, puts financial blocks on banks, arms dealers and technology companies tied to weapons production, and goes after alleged sanctions evaders in countries from the United Arab Emirates to Switzerland.

“Our sanctions have had both short-term and long-term impact, seen acutely in Russia’s struggle to replenish its weapons and in its isolated economy,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a written statement. “Our actions today with our G7 partners show that we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

Yellen is attending the G-20 finance ministers’ meetings in Bengaluru, India, this week. On Friday morning she told senior Russian officials attending meetings that “their continued work for the Kremlin makes them complicit in Putin’s atrocities.”

“They bear responsibility for the lives and livelihoods being taken in Ukraine and the harm caused globally,” she said.

The sanctions come after the White House announced early Friday morning that the Pentagon would commit $2 billion for more rounds of ammunition and a variety of small, high-tech drones into the fight against Russia.

The State and Commerce departments and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative will also issue plans Friday to increase pressure on Russia. These steps increase tariffs on Russian products and add nearly 90 Russian and third-country companies, including from China, to a list of identified sanctions evaders.

Named in Friday’s sanctions package are a dozen financial institutions, including Russia’s largest non-state public bank, importers of microelectronics and producers of carbon fiber, a key material for defense systems.

The package names more than 30 people and firms allegedly connected to Russia’s sanctions evasion efforts. Among them: Swiss-Italian businessman Walter Moretti and his businesses; Nurmurad Kurbanov, a Russian-Turkmen arms dealer who is alleged to have represented Russian and Belarusian defense firms abroad; and Russian businessman Aleksandr Yevgenyevich Udodov, the former brother-in-law of Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.

More than 30 countries representing more than half the world’s economy have already imposed unprecedented sanctions on the Russian economy, making it the most sanctioned nation in the world.

They have imposed price caps on Russian oil and diesel, frozen Russian Central Bank funds and restricted access to SWIFT, the dominant system for global financial transactions.

The West has directly sanctioned roughly 2,500 Russian firms, government officials, oligarchs and their families. The sanctions are depriving them of access to their American bank accounts and financial markets, preventing them from doing business with Americans and traveling to the U.S, and more.

After a year, the West’s export controls and financial sanctions appear to be gradually eroding Russia’s industrial capacity, even as its oil and other energy exports last year enabled it to keep funding a catastrophic war.

At the G-20 meetings Friday, Britain’s treasury chief, Jeremy Hunt said, “We don’t think the job is by any means done.”

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Marie, at a G-20 press conference said, “our sanctions are strong, they are efficient, they are hitting and reducing all revenues of Russia.”

“They are disorganizing Russian industry, undermining war efforts,” he said. “Sanctions are effective and will be more effective in the long term.”

Associated Press reporter Sibi Arasu in Bengaluru contributed to this report.

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