US puts Russia under more sanctions after Moscow annexes Ukraine territory

President Joe Biden condemns President Vladimir Putin's actions as a breach of international law

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President Joe Biden on Friday condemned Russia's attempt to annex parts of Ukraine's territory, calling Moscow's actions a breach of international law, as the US levied sanctions against hundreds of lawmakers and officials in Russia's military and its armaments industry.

The actions from Washington come after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow had annexed the regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson — which make up roughly 15 per cent of Ukrainian territory.

“Make no mistake: these actions have no legitimacy,” Mr Biden said.

“The United States will always honour Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders.”

Mr Putin held a ceremony after so-called referendums were organised by Russian officials in what western leaders have called a sham.

"He doesn't scare us or intimidate us," Mr Biden said in remarks later on Friday.

"America is fully prepared with our Nato allies to defend every single inch of Nato territory," he added. "Mr Putin, don't misunderstand what I'm saying. Every inch."

He also called the leaks from Russian-controlled pipelines in the Baltic Sea "a deliberate act of sabotage".

In response, the US imposed sanctions on hundreds of people and businesses. Mr Biden said the latest tranche of sanctions would be enacted “together with our allies and partners”.

“These sanctions will impose costs on individuals and entities — inside and outside of Russia — that provide political or economic support to illegal attempts to change the status of Ukrainian territory,” he said.

The Treasury Department announced it had designated 14 people involved in Russia's military-industrial complex, immediate family members of senior officials and 278 members of the nation's legislature.

Also included are 57 entities that the White House accuses of supporting Russia's military.

“We will not stand by as Putin fraudulently attempts to annex parts of Ukraine,” said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

“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,” she said.

Ms Yellen said the US and its allies will also target those complicit in Russia's “sham referendums”.

Officials with sanctions imposed on them include senior figures in Russia's financial system. They include Elvira Nabiullina, governor of Russia's central bank and Olga Skorobogatova, the central bank's first deputy governor.

Sanctions have also been placed on Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, as well as security officials, their families and companies that provide Russia with its military equipment.

The Treasury also announced that it had imposed sanctions on 169 members of Russia's Federation Council and 109 Duma officials, which make up the country's legislature.

And the State Department imposed visa restrictions on Ochur-Suge Mongush, a Russian national who is accused of torturing a Ukrainian prisoner of war.

The State Department is also taking steps to impose visa restrictions on 910 Russian and Belarusian individuals.

“We are also issuing a clear warning supported by G7 [Group of Seven] leaders,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

“We will hold to account any individual, entity, or country that provides political or economic support for Russia’s illegal attempts to change the status of Ukrainian territory.”

Vladimir Putin annexes four regions of Ukraine — in pictures

Russia's actions were swiftly condemned by the EU, whose leaders in a joint statement refused to acknowledge the four territories as Russian.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the move constituted a breach of the organisation's founding charter.

Mr Biden said that the US remained committed to Ukraine's long-term needs, underlined by the Pentagon's $1.1 billion military aid package announced this week.

Mr Biden said he looked forward to Congress approving an additional $12.3bn in support for Ukraine, which gained final authorisation from the House of Representatives on Friday afternoon.

The legislation allows for a drawdown of up to $3.7bn for the transfer of weapons from US stocks and $35 million "to prepare for and respond to potential nuclear and radiological incidents in Ukraine", the bill summary says.

Meanwhile, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to discuss concerns over “Russia's illegitimate attempts to purportedly annex Ukrainian territory” through sham referendums, the White House said.

At a briefing late on Friday, Mr Stoltenberg condemned Russia for its "reckless, dangerous nuclear rhetoric, and then today’s illegal annexation, or attempt to annex parts of Ukraine."

Updated: October 01, 2022, 4:46 AM
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