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US imposes 'crushing' sanctions on Russia 2 years after Ukraine invasion

US imposes 'crushing' sanctions on Russia 2 years after Ukraine invasion

Baku, February 23, AZERTAC

The U.S. has announced more than 500 sanctions on Russia, its enablers, and its war machine on Friday as the world marks two years since Russia attacked Ukraine, ABC news reported.

This is the largest single tranche since the start of Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion, administration officials said.

"Today, I am announcing more than 500 new sanctions against Russia for its ongoing war of conquest on Ukraine and for the death of Aleksey Navalny, who was a courageous anti-corruption activist and Putin’s fiercest opposition leader," President Joe Biden said in the statement released by the White House. "These sanctions will target individuals connected to Navalny’s imprisonment as well as Russia’s financial sector, defense industrial base, procurement networks and sanctions evaders across multiple continents. They will ensure Putin pays an even steeper price for his aggression abroad and repression at home."

"We are also imposing new export restrictions on nearly 100 entities for providing backdoor support for Russia’s war machine," Biden continued. "We are taking action to further reduce Russia’s energy revenues. And I’ve directed my team to strengthen support for civil society, independent media, and those who fight for democracy around the world."

The sanctions, to be rolled out by the Treasury Department and State Department, include additional measures intended to punish the Kremlin for its role in the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, officials said.

Following a meeting on Thursday with Navalny's widow and daughter in San Francisco, President Joe Biden previewed the action, saying his administration would be "announcing sanctions against Putin, who is responsible for his death, tomorrow."

Earlier Thursday, a high-level State Department official described the pending sanctions as "crushing."

"Some of them will be targeted at folks directly involved in Navalany's death. The vast majority of them though are designed to further attrite Putin's war machine -- to close the gaps in the sanctions regime that he has been able to evade," Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said speaking at an event in Washington.

Many of the measures will take aim at Russia's defense sector, including a number of entities already sanctioned by the U.S.

Those imposed as punishment for Navalny's death in a remote Russian prisoner target individuals thought to have played a part in his detention and demise, officials added.

Throughout Russia's war on Ukraine, the U.S. has sought to weaken Moscow's military by targeting its economy -- limiting its ability to import key technology to fuel its defense-industrial complex, reduce the value of its exports, and cut Russia off from the international banking system.

Despite the historic effort, Russia's economy has grown over the last two years due in part to the country's steady trade with partners like China and India. The Kremlin has also managed to keep its arsenals stocked, resorting to sourcing some weapons from Iran and North Korea -- two countries that are also heavily sanctioned by the West.

"[Vladimir Putin] and his tricksters have found a lot of ways to evade sanctions," Nuland conceded. "That is why when you see this package that we're going to launch in a couple days, it is very heavily focused on evasion, on nodes and networks and countries that help evade -- willingly or otherwise -- and on the banks that support and allow that kind of evasion."

Nuland also predicted the administration would also impose additional penalties tied to Navalny's death in the future.

"I anticipate as time goes on we will be able to put forward more and more sanctions on folks directly responsible for Navalny's death," she said.

The U.K. announced its own sanctions against six Russian officials on Wednesday.

"History is watching. The failure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will not be forgotten," said Joe Biden on Friday. "Now is the time for us to stand strong with Ukraine and stand united with our Allies and partners. Now is the time to prove that the United States stands up for freedom and bows down to no one."

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