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G7 Beefs Up Russia Sanctions On Ukraine Invasion Anniversary

The United States rolled out new sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine in concert with G7 parnters — the G7 leaders held a virtual meeting (seen on screen) to mark the anniversary of the invasion
AFP

The United States on Friday announced sweeping sanctions aimed at increasing economic pain for Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and sharpening efforts to crack down on Moscow’s ability to evade existing restrictions.

The White House said the latest measures against Russia were rolled out “in coordination with G7 partners and allies,” while Britain announced their sanctions in a statement as well, with the EU also expected to do so though it faced last minute objections by Poland.

The G7 countries, which were holding a virtual summit on Friday to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia launching its invasion, have delivered successive waves of sanctions in an effort the thwart Russia’s war machine.

Washington’s latest measures, which target sectors including banks, mining and the defense industry, will hit “over 200 individuals and entities, including both Russian and third-country actors across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East that are supporting Russia’s war effort,” the White House said.

Among those subject to new sanctions — which come on top of multiple layers of previous measures imposed over the last 12 months — will be “a dozen Russian financial institutions, in alignment with allies and partners, as well as Russian officials and proxy authorities illegitimately operating in Ukraine.”

The White House said it was hitting Russia’s defense and high-tech sectors, including a crackdown on efforts to evade existing sanctions.

The US Treasury office said this included a crackdown on about 30 individuals or companies serving as middlemen to feed the Russian war effort.

US targets included the Italian-Swiss businessman Walter Moretti, who was accused of supplying the Russian secret services and military with Western-made technology and equipment.

“Our actions today with our G7 partners show that we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” said US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

The sanctions also went deeper into Russia’s already heavily sanctioned financial sector, including the Credit Bank of Moscow.

In their efforts to access international financing, “sanctioned actors have also been known to turn to smaller banks as well as wealth-management firms in an attempt to evade sanctions”, the US Treasury said.

The US Department of Commerce would be imposing export controls on nearly 90 Russian and third country companies, including in China, for engaging in sanction evasion and support of Russia’s defense sector, the White House said.

Targeted companies will be banned from “purchasing items, such as semiconductors, whether made in the US or with certain US technology or software abroad.”

Also in the crosshairs for economic penalties is the Russian metals and mining sector.

G7 member Britain also announced new sanctions, banning the export of “every item Ukraine has found Russia using on the battlefield” and targeting executives at state-owned nuclear company Rosatom, defense companies and banks.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the equipment ban included hundreds of items from aircraft parts and radio equipment to electronic components used in drones.

The European Union, which attends G7 meetings with member countries Germany, France and Italy, had hoped to announce a new package of sanctions to mark the first anniversary, but diplomats said negotiations were stalled over Poland’s objections that the measures were too weak.

The bloc’s 10th round of sanctions would freeze the EU-held assets of three Russian banks, impose export controls on goods worth 11 billion euros ($11.6 billion) a year and hit Iranian drone-makers supplying Moscow.

But Poland also wants a ban on the importation from Russia of synthetic rubber that is used to make tires, diplomats told AFP.

The G7 was also set to announce a new body known as the Enforcement Coordination Mechanism to block attempts at circumventing existing sanctions.

The body will be chaired by the United States in its first year, the White House said.