WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden on Friday condemned Russia’s “fraudulent” declaration that it has annexed four regions of Ukraine and said Moscow was contravening international law.
“The United States condemns Russia’s fraudulent attempt today to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory. Russia is violating international law, trampling on the United Nations Charter, and showing its contempt for peaceful nations everywhere,” Biden said in a statement.
“The United States will always honour Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders. We will continue to support Ukraine’s efforts to regain control of its territory by strengthening its hand militarily and diplomatically, including through the $1.1 billion in additional security assistance the United States announced this week,” Biden said.
The European Union said it firmly condemned the annexation, adding it would never recognise “illegal” referendums held there and would tighten its sanctions to increase pressure on Moscow.
The European Council, which groups the 27 EU member states, said in a statement on behalf of those members that Russia’s wilful undermining of the international order was putting global security at risk.
“We do not and will never recognise the illegal ‘referenda’ that Russia has engineered as a pretext for this further violation of Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, nor their falsified and illegal results,” the statement said.
“We will strengthen our restrictive measures countering Russia’s illegal actions. They will further increase pressure on Russia to end its war of aggression,” it said.
New US sanctions on Russia
The US announced a long list of new sanctions Friday after Russian formally announced that it was annexing four regions of Ukraine.
Sanctions freeze any assets a blacklisted person or firm might have under US jurisdiction. They also forbid any US citizens or entities - including foreign banks with US branches -from doing business with those blacklisted, partly in order to block any international financial transactions they attempt.
Individuals sanctioned: The US Treasury placed sanctions on 14 people in “Russia’s military-industrial complex” and 278 members of the legislature, particularly members of the Federation Council, the upper house, for their support of the invasion of Ukraine. Most of the members of the lower house, the Duma, had been under sanctions; the Treasury added all those not previously blacklisted.
Bank governor targeted: The Treasury placed sanctions on Russian Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina, and her first deputy Olga Skorobogatova. Nabiullina “has overseen its efforts to protect the Kremlin from Western sanctions” over Russian attacks on Ukraine, it said. Britain also placed sanctions on Nabiullina Friday.
Families hit: The US Treasury and State Department extended sanctions to the immediate family members of top officials including Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu, National Guard Head Viktor Zolotov, deputy security council chairman and former president Dmitry Medvedev, and the mayor of Moscow and governor of St. Petersburg.
Foreign supporters threatened: The United States also stepped up pressure by threatening sanctions on any foreign individuals, companies and countries who show support for the annexation.
“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,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Blinken said the warning was supported by leaders of the G7 countries.
Companies under fire: US Treasury and Commerce Department named dozens of companies in Russia and occupied Crimea for sanctions and bans, many of them involved in the defense and technology sectors.
The Treasury singled out the executives of already-sanctioned Radioavtomatika, which acquires foreign technologies and materials for the Russian defense sector. It also named “front companies” for Radioavtomatika, including firms in China and Armenia.
US travel ban: The State Department placed visa restrictions on 910 Russians and Belarusians which block them from traveling to the United States.
As is practice the names are not released publicly, but the State Department said they included Russian and Belarusian military officials and people representing Russia in occupied Ukraine.