As attacks continue in Ukraine and Russian forces press their advance on the capital Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pleaded for help from the international community.
The United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Taiwan, and New Zealand unveiled a series of sanctions against Russia targeting banks, oil refineries, and military exports.
Western powers were implementing measures aimed at “asphyxiating Russia’s economy”, said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Below is a list of actions taken against Moscow so far:
The US Department of the Treasury said it targeted the “core infrastructure” of Russia’s financial system, sanctioning two of its largest banks – state-backed Sberbank and VTB Bank. Also on the sanctions list are Otkritie, Sovcombank and Novikombank and some senior executives.
US banks must sever their corresponding banking ties – which allow banks to make payments between one another and move money around the globe – with Russia’s largest lender, Sberbank, within 30 days.
Officials in Washington added VTB, Otkritie, Novikombank and Sovcombank to the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list. The move effectively kicks the banks out of the US financial system, bans their trade with Americans, and freezes their US assets.
I spoke with the G7 leaders today, and we are in full agreement:
We will limit Russia’s ability to be part of the global economy.
We will stunt their ability to finance and grow Russia’s military.
We will impair their ability to compete in a high-tech, 21st century economy.
– President Biden (@POTUS) February 24, 2022
The White House released a statement on Thursday saying measures will include “wide restrictions on semiconductors, telecommunications, encryption security, lasers, sensors, navigation, avionics and maritime technologies”.
It has also targeted military end users, including the Russian defense ministry.
The US has imposed sanctions on 24 Belarusian individuals and entities including “two significant Belarusian state-owned banks, nine defense firms, and seven regime-connected officials and elites”.
The White House also detailed sanctions against Russian elites and their families.
EU leaders were set to impose sanctions on Russia’s financial, energy and transport sectors, introduce export controls, and blacklist more Russians.
The EU also eyed freezing European assets linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov over their decision to invade Ukraine, EU officials said on Friday.
“We are hitting Putin’s system where it has to be hit, not only economically and financially, but also at the heart of its power,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said.
“We are not just listing oligarchs, but we are now also listing the president, Mr Putin, and the foreign minister, Mr Lavrov,” Baerbock added.
Freezing Putin’s assets in the EU would be “a unique step in history towards a nuclear power”, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said.
But it was unclear how badly Putin and Lavrov would be hit by such a move or if it would be mainly symbolic.
EU foreign ministers also unveiled on Friday sanctions that target Russian elites, but the group opted not to curb Russian energy imports, or – after objections from Germany and Italy, among others – to cut Russia off from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT ) international payment system.
An equally big move would be to ban Putin and Lavrov from EU travel. But EU leaders made it clear that would be off the table for now, since it might complicate diplomatic moves once all sides get around the negotiating table.
The package of massive and targeted sanctions approved tonight shows how united the EU is.
First, this package includes financial sanctions, targeting 70% of the Russian banking market and key state owned companies, including in defense. https://t.co/iKVGfnafKp
– Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) February 25, 2022
Japan said it will strengthen sanctions against Russia to include financial institutions and military equipment exports, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, adding that an impact on his resource-poor nation’s energy supply is unlikely.
Kishida told a news conference that Tokyo would take aim at Russian financial institutions and individuals with the sanctions, as well as halt exports of military-use goods such as semiconductors.
“Japan must clearly show its position that we will never tolerate any attempt to change the status quo by force,” he said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the UK’s largest-ever package of sanctions against Russia targeting banks, members of Putin’s closest circle, and wealthy Russians who enjoy high-rolling London lifestyles.
Johnson said the Russian leader would be condemned by the world and by history for his invasion, and never be able to cleanse the “blood of Ukraine from his hands”.
In the 10-point sanctions package, the British government said it would impose an asset freeze on major Russian banks, including state-owned VTB, its second-biggest bank, and stop major Russian companies from raising finance in the UK.
Britain will also ban Russia’s flagship airline Aeroflot from landing in the UK, suspend dual export licenses to Russia, and ban exports of some high-tech exports and parts of the extractive industry.
I thanked our financial services sector today for the efforts they are making to ensure sanctions implemented against Russia are robust and effective.
Should things escalate further, tougher sanctions are ready to punish President Putin for his destructive course of action. pic.twitter.com/CjwfZhj4BO
– Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) February 23, 2022
Canada announced more sanctions against Russia targeting 62 individuals and entities, including members of the elite and major banks, and canceled all export permits.
“Today, in light of Russia’s reckless and dangerous military strike, we are imposing further, severe sanctions,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
“These sanctions are wide-reaching. They will impose severe costs on complicit Russian elites. ”
Sanctions will target the Russian Security Council – including the defense minister, finance minister, and justice minister, Trudeau added.
Canada will prioritize immigration applications for Ukrainians who want to come to Canada, he said.
We’re imposing new and severe sanctions on those responsible for Russia’s brutal, unjustified attack on Ukraine. These sanctions will target banks, financial elites, and members of the Russian Security Council – including the Defense, Finance, and Justice Ministers. pic.twitter.com/JsEodukwcZ
– Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) February 25, 2022
The Czech Republic banned Russian airlines from flying to the central European country and is considering further steps against Russia.
Prime Minister Petr Fiala said Prague will also speed up its exit from two international banks set up in the Soviet era, while the finance ministry will analyze Russian-owned companies’ access to Czech public funds.
Fiala said memories of the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia made the Czech stance tougher than that of some western European partners.
“We are a country which experienced the aggressive policy of Russia, or Soviet Union, and our unique historical experience makes us much more sensitive,” he said.
Taiwan will impose sanctions on Russia, the government said, with the world’s largest contract chipmaker saying it would comply with all export-control rules.
“We very harshly condemn such an act of invasion and will join democratic countries to jointly impose sanctions,” said Premier Su Tseng-chang, without giving details.
Asked about the sanctions, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC), a major Apple supplier and Asia’s most valuable listed company, said it had a robust export control system and would follow the rules.
Australia imposed more sanctions on Russia targeting several of its elite citizens and lawmakers, and said it was “unacceptable” that China was easing trade restrictions with Moscow at a time when it invaded Ukraine.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new sanctions would be placed against “oligarchs whose economic weight is of strategic significance to Moscow”, and more than 300 members of the Russian parliament who voted to authorize sending Russian troops into Ukraine.
Australia is also working with the United States to align sanctions on key Belarussian individuals and entities who helped Russia.
Morrison voiced concerns over the “lack of strong response” from China and criticized Beijing about reports it eased trade curbs with Moscow by allowing imports of wheat from Russia.
New Zealand imposed targeted travel bans on Russia and prohibited trade to its military and security forces.
“The world is speaking and sending a very clear message to Russia that what they have done is wrong and they will face the condemnation of the world,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
Ardern said “an unthinkable number of innocent lives could be lost because of Russia’s decision”.