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US hits Russia with sanctions over ‘phony’ annexing of Ukrainian regions

Washington sanctioned more than 1,000 people and firms connected to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Joe Biden
Joe Biden

The US has sanctioned more than 1,000 people and firms connected to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine after Vladimir Putin signed treaties absorbing occupied regions of Ukraine into Russia, in defiance of international law.

Those sanctioned included Russia’s Central Bank governor and families of Security Council members.

The Treasury Department named hundreds of members of Russia’s legislature, leaders of the country’s financial and military infrastructure and suppliers for sanctions designations.

The Commerce Department added 57 companies to its list of export control violators, and the State Department added more than 900 people to its visa restriction list.

President Joe Biden said of the Russian leader’s steps: “Make no mistake: These actions have no legitimacy.”

He said the new financial penalties will impose costs on people and companies inside and outside Russia “that provide political or economic support to illegal attempts to change the status of Ukrainian territory”.

“I look forward to signing legislation from Congress that will provide an additional 12 billion dollars to support Ukraine,” he added.

The US and the EU are stepping up the intensity of sanctions after Moscow announced it was mobilising up to 300,000 more troops to join the invasion of Ukraine and Mr Putin ratified the results of Kremlin-orchestrated annexation “referendums” that Kyiv and the West called sham elections.

Mr Putin warned that Russia would never give up the absorbed regions — Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia — and would protect them as part of its sovereign territory.

In Washington, Treasury secretary Janet Yellen said: “We will not stand by as Putin fraudulently attempts to annex parts of Ukraine.

“The Treasury Department and US government are taking sweeping action today to further weaken Russia’s already degraded military industrial complex and undermine its ability to wage its illegal war.”

Belgium NATO Russia Ukraine War
Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference (Olivier Matthys/AP)

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg rejected Russia’s “illegal and illegitimate” annexation of the four regions.

He told reporters that it is “the largest attempted annexation of European territory by force since the Second World War”, and the “sham referendums… were engineered in Moscow and imposed on Ukraine in total violation of international law”.

Mr Stoltenberg said the war in Ukraine is at “a pivotal moment”, and Mr Putin’s decision to annex more territory marks “the most serious escalation since the start of the war”.

Asked whether Ukrainian troops should refrain from attacking the annexed regions, he said: “They can defend themselves, they can also continue to liberate territory.”

Stepping back, he said, would be to “accept nuclear blackmailing”.

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