Japan and Australia impose sanctions on Russia following Britain and US' decision

U.S. President Joe Biden signs an executive order to prohibit trade and investment between U.S. individuals and the two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine, at the White House in Washington, Feb. 21, 2022. (White House via Reuters)

Japan and Australia declared sanctions against Russia on Wednesday, joining the US, the European Union, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany in responding to Russia's activities in neighboring Ukraine.

"Australians have a history of standing up to bullies, and we, along with our partners, will stand up to Russia," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. "I anticipate additional tranches of sanctions; this is only the beginning of this process."

Australia's penalties are directed at members of Russia's security council, while Japan placed asset restrictions on select Russian persons and prohibited issuing Russian bonds in the country.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged swift approval of further measures to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin's "further aggression."

"We are grateful for the first decisive steps taken yesterday," he tweeted Wednesday. "Now the pressure must be increased to bring Putin to heel. Inflict damage on his economy and cronies. Increase the number of strikes. Strike hard. Now is the time."

Ukraine's military said Wednesday that pro-Russian rebels' shelling in the Luhansk area killed one Ukrainian soldier and injured six others.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine signed an order calling up certain military reservists, he said late Tuesday in a video message, citing the need to staff the nation's army promptly.

"Ukrainians are a peaceful nation; we desire silence," Zelenskyy added. "However, if we remain silent today, we will vanish tomorrow."

Putin, who amassed 150,000 troops at Ukraine's border and recognized rebel-held territories in eastern Ukraine as autonomous and subsequent order to send Russian troops, drew widespread condemnation. He said Wednesday that he is always open to a diplomatic settlement, and however, he stated that "Russian interests and the security of our citizens are non-negotiable for us."

Sergey Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, and Antony Blinken, the United States secretary of state, were scheduled to meet this week to discuss the situation and lay the groundwork for a summit between Putin and US President Joe Biden. Putin's actions thwarted those efforts, with Blinken declaring Tuesday that Russia "has made its wholesale rejection of diplomacy abundantly clear."

Biden cut Russia's government off from international financing on Tuesday and placed sanctions on two significant banks, claiming that Russia's actions in Ukraine were a "blatant violation of international law."

Biden stated emphatically during a brief White House address, "Who in the Lord's name does Putin believe gives him the authority to declare new so-called countries on territory that was previously occupied by his neighbors?"

Numerous other US allies and multilateral institutions condemned the move, including United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, who stated Tuesday, "Let me be clear: Russia's decision to recognize the so-called "independence" of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions violates Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty."

Biden also directed the relocation of infantry soldiers and air support from other parts of Europe closer to Russia's borders, as the area braces itself for a possible clash.

Biden stated that the United States is deploying extra forces to the Baltics to "send an unmistakable message that the United States, in partnership with our allies, will defend every inch of NATO territory."

Recent deployments include a battalion of over 800 troops from Italy to the Baltic region, eight F-35 fighter jets and twenty Apache attack helicopters from Germany to the Baltics, and 12 Apache attack helicopters from Greece to Poland. Additionally, Canada announced the deployment of 460 troops to Latvia in support of NATO defenses.

However, Biden emphasized, "These are entirely defensive maneuvers on our part." We have no intention of engaging in combat with Russia." "None of us should be duped; none of us will be duped," he continued, referring to Putin's motives in deploying what he described as "peacekeeping forces" into the former Soviet republic.

For the time being, the government asserts that its most potent weapon is sanctions against Russia's power brokers. The US president stated that his measures will prevent Russia's government from "raising money from the West" and pledged that Russia "will pay an even higher price (through additional sanctions) if its forces advance further west into Ukraine."

The penalties announced Tuesday are directed against three members of Putin's closest circle: Aleksandr Bortnikov, the head of the Federal Security Service; Sergei Kiriyenko, a senior official in Putin's office; and Peter Fradkov, the chairman of Promsvyazbank.

According to a senior administration official, the penalties target two banks with close ties to Russia's leadership, including one with more than $50 billion in assets, Vnesheconombank. Daleep Singh, the deputy national security adviser for international economics, labeled it the Kremlin's "glorified piggy bank."

Singh stated that if Russia continues on its current path, "no Russian financial institution" will be immune from sanctions, including the country's two most significant, which together contain almost $750 billion in assets.

"Make no mistake — this is only the tip of the iceberg of the pain we are capable of inflicting," he stated.

According to some analysts, the administration could have gone further.

"The sanctions announced on Monday will have little economic or political impact," Chris Miller, a Russia specialist at the American Enterprise Institute, told VOA. "The sanctions announced today, particularly those targeting sovereign debt, will have a minor, negative macroeconomic impact on Russia."

In a speech at the Kremlin, Putin said that Ukraine was never an independent state and was always a part of a larger Russian sphere of influence, not a "puppet" of the West.

"He made a direct attack on Ukraine's right to exist," Biden said of Putin, adding that there is still "time to avert the worst-case scenario" of a full-fledged invasion through the diplomatic resolution of the problem.

Biden's announcement of long-promised sanctions came as other Western partners moved Tuesday swiftly to impose their sanctions on Russia.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has suspended approval for Nord Stream 2, Russia's constructed but not yet operating natural gas pipeline beneath the Baltic Sea to Germany, limiting fuel delivery to Germany temporarily and depriving Moscow of money of the pipeline.

Russian parliament approved Putin's military action outside the country on Tuesday, paving the way for a bigger war on Ukraine.

According to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Russian tanks have entered portions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

"Every indication indicates that Russia is still plotting a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine," he stated.

Publish : 2022-02-23 15:31:00

Give Your Comments