Western nations will unveil major new sanctions against Russia to coincide with the anniversary of its invasion of Ukraine, a top US official said on Thursday.
Victoria Nuland, the under secretary of state for political affairs, said the US and all of its G7 partners would unveil a “big new package of sanctions” on or around February 24.
“These sanctions will deepen and broaden in certain categories where we have been active before, particularly in limiting the flow of technology to the Russian defence industry,” she told reporters.
Ms Nuland said the package would also take aim at individuals, expand banking restrictions and crack down on evasion of existing sanctions, including in third countries.
President Joe Biden has led western efforts to punish Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine, notably by curbing the flow and payments for Russian oil and gas.
But the International Monetary Fund last month raised its forecast for Russia for the year to 0.3 per cent growth from a projected contraction of 2.3 per cent, with Russia adapting to sanctions and expanding trade with non-western partners including China and India.
“We are seeing the Russians get quite clever — everything from importing laptops and refrigerators through third countries, including sometimes our own countries, which they then strip-mine for chips and other things that go into their war machine,” she said.
Ms Nuland, a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, mocked Moscow's war efforts including its prolonged struggle to capture the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.
“You see the war grinding in the east in Bakhmut. Russia has declared that it is launching a new offensive. Well, if this is it, it is very pathetic.”
She also took a swipe at Russia's weapons systems, saying they “stink”.
“We also have countries around the world, like India, which are fully dependent on Russian weapons who now understand not only that Russian weapons stink, as we've seen on the battlefield, but that there's not going to be resupplied there,” she said.