Saturday, April 1

The US and the EU approve the first sanctions against Russia for the recognition of the Donbas republics

The sanctions are ready. The United States and the European Union have decided on the first sanctions against Russia for the recognition of the Donbas republics. US President Joe Biden has appeared before the press to announce them. “This is the beginning of an invasion of Ukraine,” he said, while stating that “if the escalation continues, the sanctions will also be tougher.” Biden, who has authorized more US troops to be deployed in NATO-allied countries in Eastern Europe, has stated that “there may be a massive attack, including the capital, Kiev.”

In parallel, this Tuesday afternoon the EU foreign ministers met to seal the political agreement, the penultimate step for it to come into force in the next few hours once the ambassadors of the 27 have approved the following legal texts and at night: on Wednesday they are scheduled to come into force.

As explained by the head of European diplomacy, the sanctions affect the “351 deputies of the Duma [Parlamento] who voted in favor of the recognition” of the republics of Donbas, “27 natural and legal persons”, but not the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin.

“We have agreed to sanction 27 individuals and entities that play a role in undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine,” said Borrell, who has also pointed to banks that finance operations taking place in the territory of the Donbas.

“We will be attentive to Russia’s behavior and we will be ready to increase the level of sanctions,” added Borrell, who explained that there may still be greater sanctions if the conflict worsens. “The sanctions are going to do damage, a lot of damage,” said the head of European diplomacy. “But they don’t work miracles”

Given this circumstance, the Russian Foreign Ministry has reported: “Our first priority is to deal with Russian diplomats and employees of the Embassy and consulates. To protect their lives and safety, Russian leaders have decided to evacuate the staff of the missions Russians in Ukraine”.

“Russia’s decision to recognize the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine is illegal and completely unacceptable,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, “the same goes for the decision to send troops to these regions. Russia it is not respecting its international obligations and is violating the fundamental principles of international law. Russia has manufactured this crisis and is responsible for the current escalation.”

According to the head of the Community Executive, “this package is a clear response to the violations of international law by the Kremlin. The sanctions are directed directly at the people and companies involved in these actions. They target the banks that finance the Russian military apparatus and contribute to the destabilization of Ukraine. We also banned trade between the two breakaway regions and the EU, as we did after the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. And finally, we limited the ability of the Russian government to raise capital on the markets EU financials.

Both Borrell and Von der Leyen wanted to acknowledge the German government’s gesture of freezing the ratification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. “This crisis shows that Europe continues to depend too much on Russian gas. We have to diversify our suppliers and invest massively in renewable energy”, Von der Leyen said.

And what does the sanctions package contain? “Target those who were involved in the illegal decision [los 351 diputados]; to banks that are financing Russian military and other operations in those territories; to the ability of the Russian state and government to access the EU financial and capital markets and services, to limit the financing of aggressive policies; trade of the two breakaway regions to and from the EU, to ensure that those responsible clearly feel the economic consequences of their illegal and aggressive actions”.

Michel and Von der Leyen explain that “the EU has prepared itself and is ready to take additional measures at a later stage if necessary in light of new developments.”

British sanctions

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, announced on Tuesday the first sanctions against Russia after the recognition by the Kremlin of the self-proclaimed republics of Donbas.

In an appearance in the House of Commons, Johnson announced sanctions on five Russian banks and three high net worth individuals: all assets they have in the UK will be frozen, individuals will be banned from entering the country, and individuals and entities of the United Kingdom will be prohibited from doing business with them. The sanctioned banks are Rossiya, IS Bank, Genbank, Promsvyazbank and Black Sea Bank, and the individuals are Gennady Timchenko, Boris Romanovich Rotenberg and Igor Rotenberg.

Johnson has warned that there will be more sanctions if Putin goes further, The Guardian reports. The conservative leader has also stated that “we must prepare for a prolonged crisis” and has warned that, given the high stakes, “Putin’s adventure in Ukraine must fail”. He has assured that his government will not give up trying to avoid war.

The president has said that he spoke with the Ukrainian president on Monday night and assured him of the support of the United Kingdom. In his appearance, Johnson has also announced up to 500 million dollars of financing for the development of Ukraine.