Stories by Cecilia Ologunagba
New York, Feb. 24, 2022
U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday announced new sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, saying that Russian leader Vladimir Putin “chose this war” and his country would bear the consequences.
The sanctions target Russian banks, oligarchs and high-tech sectors, Biden said.
The United States and its allies will block assets of four large Russian banks, impose export controls and sanction oligarchs.
This is as Canada has announced that it is cancelling all export permits to Russia in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine, a decision that Canada’s foreign affairs minister says will impact companies in the aerospace, technology and minerals sectors.
The cancellation of existing export permits and additional sanctions were announced at a press conference on Thursday, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly and Defence Minister Anita Anand.
Biden had on Tuesday announced the first tranche of sanctions on Russia, following its decision to recognise the independence of certain areas of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
The President announced the sanctions at the White House while Ukraine’s government reported mounting casualties inflicted by Russian forces attacking from the east, north and south.
“The sanctions measures impose severe costs on Russia’s largest financial institutions and will further isolate Russia from the global financial system.
“With today’s financial sanctions, we have now targeted all ten of Russia’s largest financial institutions, including the imposition of full blocking and correspondent and payable-through account sanctions, and debt and equity restrictions, on institutions holding nearly 80 per cent of Russian banking sector assets.
“The unprecedented export control measures will cut off more than half of Russia’s high-tech imports, restricting Russia’s access to vital technological inputs, atrophying its industrial base, and undercutting Russia’s strategic ambitions to exert influence on the world stage,’’ he said.
According to him, the impact of these measures will be significantly magnified due to historical multilateral cooperation with a wide range of Allies and partners who are mirroring our actions, inhibiting Putin’s ambition to diversify Russia’s brittle, one-dimensional economy.
“The scale of Putin’s aggression and the threat it poses to the international order require a resolute response, and we will continue imposing severe costs if he does not change course.’’
The U.S. leader said Russia’s economy had already faced intensified pressure in recent weeks, noting that just today its stock market sunk to its lowest level in four and half years.
With these new stringent measures, he said these pressures would further accumulate and suppress Russia’s economic growth, increase its borrowing costs, raise inflation, intensify capital outflows, and erode its industrial base.
“The United States and our Allies and partners are unified and will continue to impose costs, forcing Putin to look to other countries that cannot replicate the financial and technology strengths of Western markets.’’
He said the U.S. would be deploying additional forces to Germany to bolster NATO after the invasion of Ukraine, which is not a member of the defense organisation. Approximately 7,000 additional U.S. troops will be sent.
Biden said Putin’s threatening actions and now his unprovoked aggression toward Ukraine were being met with an unprecedented level of multilateral cooperation.
He said the United States welcomed the commitments by Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, and the United Kingdom.
“They would also take similarly forceful actions to hold Russia accountable – demonstrating the strength of our partnerships and deepening the impact on Russia more than any action we could have taken alone.
“This follows our joint action earlier this week to impose a first tranche of severe sanctions on Russia,’’ he said.
Biden spoke hours after holding a virtual meeting with the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Italy and Japan.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also joined the meeting.
The president also met with his national security team in the White House Situation Room as he looked to flesh out U.S. moves in the rapidly escalating crisis.
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said that hundreds of export permits were being cancelled, worth more than 700 million dollars. Applications for new permits to export goods to Russia, he said, will be rejected.
“No aerospace technology or mineral goods will be sent to Russia,” Joly said.
“Together with our allies, we are inflicting severe pain on the Russian regime and the Russian economy… Our goal is to weaken the Russian regime and its economy.”
The Canadian government announced additional sanctions on Thursday, targeting 58 individuals and entities including members of the Russian elite and major Russian banks.
The government is also sanctioning members of the Russian Security council, including its defence minister, finance minister and justice minister.
“These sanctions are wide-reaching and will impose severe costs on complicit Russian elites and will limit (Russian President Vladimir Putin’s) ability to continue funding this unjustified invasion,” Trudeau said.