'Punish Russia': Sanctions imposed on Moscow over Ukraine invasion

25 Feb 2022 04:41pm
Anti-war demonstrators and Ukrainians living in the US protest against Russia's military operation in Ukraine in Lafayette Park in Washington, DC, on Feb 24, 2022. - AFP
Anti-war demonstrators and Ukrainians living in the US protest against Russia's military operation in Ukraine in Lafayette Park in Washington, DC, on Feb 24, 2022. - AFP

WASHINGTON - Russia's invasion of Ukraine has prompted a wave of sanctions as global leaders seek to ramp up pressure on the Kremlin.

As Russia's military closes in on Kyiv and Ukrainian refugees pour into neighbouring countries, here are some of the sanctions heaped on Moscow so far.

- United States -

US President Joe Biden was the first to announce sanctions, hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a "military operation" into Ukraine.

The first tranche will hit four Russian banks -- including the country's two largest, Sberbank and VTB Bank -- cut off more than half of Russia's technology imports, and target several of the country's oligarchs.

Energy giant Gazprom and 12 other major companies will be barred from raising capital in Western financial markets.

Defence and aeronautics technology exports to Russia are also restricted, and twenty-four Belarusian individuals and organisations accused of supporting and aiding the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine will face penalties.

- European Union -

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The European Union agreed to impose sanctions that "will have maximum impact on the Russian economy and the political elite", European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said.

They plan to target "70 percent of the Russian banking market" and key state-owned companies, including those in the field of defence, she said.

Sanctions on the energy sector include an export ban on equipment and technology that Russia needs to upgrade its oil refineries, as well as a ban on aircraft and aviation parts to its airlines.

Like the US, the EU will also hit the elite and Putin's inner circle by freezing their assets and banning them from "privileged access" to the bloc.

But the leaders stopped short of kicking Russia out of the SWIFT network, which the world's banks use to securely send messages and carry out financial transactions.

- Britain -

Britain imposed a similar package of sanctions to punish Putin, who Prime Minister Boris Johnson called a "blood-stained aggressor".

Besides freezing assets of Russian bank VTB and arms manufacturer Rostec, Britain also banned airline Aeroflot from its airspace, and targeted five more oligarchs close to Putin.

The new measures "will allow us to totally exclude Russian banks from the British financial sector," said Johnson, as well as prevent public and private companies from raising funds in the UK.

Long accused of turning a blind eye to Kremlin-backed money flowing through London, the government will also accelerate an "Economic Crime Bill", notably to prise open the real ownership of Russian-held assets.

- Canada -

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to "punish Russia", announcing sanctions against 58 individuals and entities, including members of the elite, security officials, banks, and shadowy Russian private security firm the Wagner group.

Export permits for goods worth $550 million in aerospace, information technology and mining have been canceled, and Ottawa has placed 3,400 troops on standby to deploy to Europe, along with aircraft and warships.

- Asia-Pacific -

Reactions across the Asia-Pacific were not as united.

India, which has close ties with Moscow and is a major purchaser of Russian weapons, has so far refrained from joining the sanctions.

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida criticised Putin's attempts to "change the status quo by force", and imposed measures targeting exports of semiconductors -- currently undergoing a global shortage -- and financial institutions.

Neighbouring Taiwan announced it would join in sanctions as the Kremlin's actions pose "the most serious threat... to the rules-based international order", though no details have been revealed.

In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled a "second phase" of sanctions targeting 25 individuals, four financial institutions, and entities involved in developing and selling military gear.

Another wave would be imposed once "those responsible for these egregious acts" are identified, he said, which could include targeting members of Russia's parliament.

Morrison also lashed out at China's response after Beijing said it understood Moscow's "reasonable concerns" on Ukraine and its General Administration of Customs announced it would increase Russian wheat imports.

"You don't go to throw a lifeline to Russia in the middle of a period when they are invading another country," he said. - AFP

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