AP

West hits back with sanctions for Russia’s Ukraine actions

Feb 22, 2022, 9:48 PM | Updated: Feb 23, 2022, 2:32 pm
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference after a meeting of the NAT...
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference after a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. World leaders are getting over the shock of Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering his forces into separatist regions of Ukraine and they are focusing on producing as forceful a reaction as possible. Germany made the first big move Tuesday and took steps to halt the process of certifying the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
(AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

BRUSSELS (AP) — Responding swiftly to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order sending troops to separatist regions of Ukraine, world leaders hit back with non-military actions Tuesday in hopes of averting a full-blown war in Europe.

Germany made the first big move, taking steps to halt certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia — a massive, lucrative project long sought by Moscow but criticized by the U.S. for increasing Europe’s reliance on Russian energy supplies.

And in Washington, U.S. President Joe Biden announced financial sanctions on banks and Russian officials close to Putin and their sons as punishment for what he called “the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.” He said the U.S. would impose “full blocking” on two large Russian financial institutions and “comprehensive sanctions” on Russian debt.

“That means we’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western finance,” Biden said. “It can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade in its new debt on our markets or European markets either.”

Biden promised that more sanctions would be coming if Putin proceeds further.

The European Union announced sanctions taking aim at the 351 Duma legislators who voted in favor of recognizing separatist regions in Ukraine, as well as 27 other Russian officials and institutions from the defense and banking world. They also sought to limit Moscow’s access to EU capital and financial markets.

“This package of sanctions … will hurt Russia and it will hurt a lot,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said after chairing a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Paris.

“We will make it as difficult as possible for the Kremlin to pursue its aggressive policies,” said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Outside the EU, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson named five Russian banks and three wealthy Russian businessmen whom the U.K. hit with sanctions on Tuesday.

Australia on Wednesday said it would align with the U.S. and Britain by targeting two Russian banks. It also imposed sanctions and travel bans on eight members of Putin’s Security Council. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said these are a first batch of measures in response to Russian aggression toward Ukraine.

Japan also announced sanctions, with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida saying Wednesday that his government will ban new issuance and distribution of Russian government bonds in Japan. He said Japan will also ban travel by people linked to the two Ukrainian rebel regions and freeze their assets in Japan, and will ban trade with the two areas.

And if Putin pushes farther into Ukraine, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg insisted, “there will be even stronger sanctions, even a higher price to pay.”

The U.S. and other Western nations have pressed daily for diplomatic efforts to head off a dangerous military confrontation. But the failure of that effort was underscored Tuesday as Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled plans for a Thursday meeting in Geneva with his Russian counterpart, saying Russia’s actions showed there was no point.

Western powers have long made clear the fate of Ukraine must not lead to a direct military confrontation with Russia and the potential of a world war, so sanctions were the limited option.

“No lows too low, no lies too blatant, no red lines too red to cross,” Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said in summing up the political disgust for Putin’s actions felt by nations from Europe to North America and the democracies hugging Russia’s borders in Asia such as Japan and South Korea.

However, Putin continued to knock the world off-kilter with a strategy that has led to confusion about his plans and possible actions.

Russia said it was sending what it called “peacekeepers” into eastern Ukraine, but EU foreign policy chief Borrell stressed they were “troops” on sovereign Ukrainian territory.

“I wouldn’t say that’s a fully fledged invasion, but Russian troops are on Ukrainian soil,” Borrell said.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace didn’t mince words. “Russia has already invaded Ukraine. They did it in 2014, occupied illegally Crimea and Donbas. This is a further invasion of their sovereign territory,” Wallace said.

Whatever the description, the latest developments were enough to push the 27-nation bloc into a mode of high alert, and the EU’s foreign ministers stressed the sanctions announced Tuesday were done in close consultation with the United States and other Western allies.

They stopped short of the “massive” package threatened by the EU and Washington for a full military invasion into national territory that Kyiv still controls.

“The way we respond will define us for the generations to come,” Simonyte said.

Too much too soon, though, could hurt the international response, said Britain’s Johnson. “This the first tranche, the first barrage of what we are prepared to do, and we hold further sanctions at readiness to be deployed,” he told British lawmakers.

“This is a first step,” agreed French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. ”We have more ammunition.”

Biden’s announcement appeared to hold in reserve some of the broadest and toughest of the penalties considered by the United States. Those include an export ban that would deny Russia U.S. high technology for its industries and military, and more sweeping financial bans that could cripple Russia’s ability to do business with the rest of the world.

Still, U.S. Secretary of State Blinken said the sanctions announced are in line with “start high, stay high” approach.

White House deputy national security adviser Daleep Singh added that the initial sanctions send the message that “no Russian financial institution is safe if the invasion proceeds.”

“No one should think that it’s our goal to max out on sanctions,” Singh said. “Sanctions are not an end of themselves. They serve a higher purpose, and that purpose is to deter and prevent.”

The two major Russian banks targeted by the U.S. sanctions are Vnesheconombank (VEB) and Promsvyazbank Public Joint Stock Company (PSB). VEB is crucial to Russia’s ability to raise funds, and PSB is critical to Russia’s defense sector. The two hold more than $80 billion in assets combined and will be cut off from carrying out transactions in the U.S. and European banking systems.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dymtro Kuleba said after a meeting with Blinken in Washington on Tuesday that U.S and Western sanctions against Russia in escalating waves can work, but he urged allies to be aggressive. Kuleba argued that Putin should not have a “single moment” when he feels sanctions have reached a ceiling.

Among those cited for sanctions are Denis Bortnikov a deputy president of state-owned VTB Bank, and Petr Fradkov, chairman and CEO of PSB.

The VTB official’s father, Alexander Bortnikov, director of the Federal Security Service and a permanent member of the Security Council, was also cited in the sanction lists. Fradkov is the son of Mikhail Fradkov, a former Russian prime minister and former director of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, who already was under U.S. sanctions.

Sergei Kiriyenko, Putin’s first deputy chief of staff, and his son Vladimir Kiriyenko, who is the CEO of the parent company of Russia’s top social media platform, VKontakte, were also designated.

Hopes are dwindling that a major conflict can be averted. Putin’s directive came hours after he recognized the two Ukrainian separatist regions as independent, setting up Russian military support and antagonizing Western leaders who regard his actions as a breach of world order.

Putin has blamed NATO for the current crisis and called the U.S.-led alliance a threat to Russia.

The global condemnation came amid rising skirmishes in the eastern regions of Ukraine that Western powers believe Russia could use as a pretext for an attack on the Europe-leaning democracy that has defied Moscow’s attempts to pull it back into its orbit.

With an estimated 150,000 Russian troops massed on three sides of Ukraine, the U.S. has warned that Moscow has already decided to invade. Still, Biden and Putin tentatively agreed to a possible meeting brokered by French President Emmanuel Macron in a last-ditch effort to avoid war.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

Microsoft is cutting 10,000 workers, almost 5% of its workforce, in response to "macroeconomic cond...
MATT O'BRIEN, Associated Press

Job cuts in tech sector spread, Microsoft lays off 10,000

Microsoft said in a regulatory filing Wednesday that had just notified employees of the layoffs, some of which begin immediately.
13 days ago
exxon mobil sign pictured...
SETH BORENSTEIN and CATHY BUSSEWITZ Associated Press

Study: Exxon Mobil accurately predicted warming since 1970s

Exxon said its understanding of climate change evolved over the years and that critics are misunderstanding its earlier research.
19 days ago
FILE - Protesters, supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro, stand on the roof of the...
The Associated Press

Brazil and Jan. 6 in US: Parallel attacks, but not identical

RIO DE JANIERO, Brazil — Enraged protesters broke into government buildings that are the very symbol of their country’s democracy. Driven by conspiracy theories about their candidate’s loss in the last election, they smashed windows, sifted through the desks of lawmakers and trashed the highest offices in the land in a rampage that lasted hours […]
21 days ago
President Joe Biden pictured...
ZEKE MILLER AP White House Correspondent

DOJ reviewing potentially classified docs at Biden center

Special counsel to the president Richard Sauber said “a small number of documents with classified markings” were discovered at the offices of the Penn Biden Center.
22 days ago
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 06: A poster advertising the launch of Prince Harry's memoir "Spare" is s...
Jill Lawless Associated Press

Prince Harry says explosive book is a bid to ‘own my story’

Prince Harry defended his decision to publish a memoir that lays bare rifts inside Britain’s royal family.
22 days ago
utah capitol, a new bill heading to lawmakers will affect the utah sex offender registry...
HANNAH SCHOENBAUM Associated Press/Report for America

States target transgender health care in first bills of 2023

After a record flow of anti-transgender legislation last year, Republican state lawmakers this year are zeroing in on questions of bodily autonomy.
24 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
West hits back with sanctions for Russia’s Ukraine actions