WASHINGTON, Feb 26 — 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.
Yesterday, US President Joe Biden extended his country’s measures against Russia to include sanctions on President Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, including a travel ban for the two statesmen.
Biden was the first world leader to announce sanctions, hours after Putin declared a “military operation” into Ukraine.
The first tranche will hit four Russian banks, 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 24 Belarusian individuals and organisations accused of supporting and aiding the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine will face penalties.
The European Union added Putin and Lavrov to its sanctions list as well yesterday.
The step was agreed in an EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels held to adopt a broad package of sanctions on Russia that the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has called the “harshest” ever drawn up by the group.
The package, approved by EU leaders in an overnight summit, hammers Russia’s financial, energy and transport sectors, and curb the ability of Russians to keep large amounts of cash in EU banks.
It also expands the number of Russians on the EU’s list of sanctioned individuals barred from entering the bloc’s 27 countries and whose EU assets are blocked.
The UK government as well ordered all assets of Putin and Lavrov frozen and banned oligarch jets from its airspace yesterday.
The Treasury issued a financial sanctions notice against the two men, adding them to a list of Russian oligarchs who have already had their property and bank accounts in the UK frozen.
Previously, Britain had frozen the assets of Russian bank VTB and arms manufacturer Rostec, and had also banned Russia’s flagship carrier Aeroflot from its airspace, in addition to targeting five more oligarchs close to Putin.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau echoed other world leaders yesterday, also imposing sanctions on Putin and Lavrov.
Trudeau additionally signaled “Canada’s support to remove Russia from the SWIFT payment system, a critical part of the global banking system.”
And he said Belarus too would be sanctioned “for abetting President Putin’s invasion of a free and sovereign nation.”
New sanction aimed at punishing Putin and Lavrov’s inner circle will target nearly 60 individuals and entities, including members of the elite, security officials, banks, and the shadowy Russian private security firm the Wagner group.
Export permits for goods worth US$550 million in aerospace, information technology and mining have been canceled.
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.”
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 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