US Imposes Sanctions on Russia over Annexation of Swath of Ukraine

President Joe Biden speaks about Hurricane Ian during a visit to FEMA headquarters, Sept. 29, 2022, in Washington. (AP)
President Joe Biden speaks about Hurricane Ian during a visit to FEMA headquarters, Sept. 29, 2022, in Washington. (AP)
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US Imposes Sanctions on Russia over Annexation of Swath of Ukraine

President Joe Biden speaks about Hurricane Ian during a visit to FEMA headquarters, Sept. 29, 2022, in Washington. (AP)
President Joe Biden speaks about Hurricane Ian during a visit to FEMA headquarters, Sept. 29, 2022, in Washington. (AP)

The United States on Friday imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia over its declared annexation of a swath of Ukraine, targeting hundreds of people and companies, including those in Russia's military-industrial complex and lawmakers.

Washington acted after Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday proclaimed the biggest annexation in Europe since World War Two, declaring Russian rule over 15% of Ukraine.

"We will rally the international community to both denounce these moves and to hold Russia accountable. We will continue to provide Ukraine with the equipment it needs to defend itself, undeterred by Russia’s brazen effort to redraw the borders of its neighbor," US President Joe Biden said in a statement.

Russia's embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Guidance from the US Treasury and the Commerce Department warned that anyone outside Russia, including companies, that provide political, economic or material support to Moscow faced a heightened risk of sanctions.

The Treasury sanctions generally freeze any US assets of those designated and bar Americans from dealing with them.

Commerce added 57 entities in Russia and Crimea to its US export blacklist.

Treasury said it imposed sanctions on 14 people in Russia's military-industrial complex, two leaders of the country's central bank, family members of top officials and 278 members of Russia's legislature "for enabling Russia's sham referenda and attempt to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory."

Among those designated was Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak; 109 State Duma members; the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of Russia and 169 of its members; and the governor of the Central Bank of Russia, Elvira Nabiullina.

Among the targets related to Russia's defense procurement was a Chinese supplier the Treasury accused of supporting Radioavtomatika, a US-designated Russian defense procurement firm.

Washington said Sinno Electronics Co Ltd, previously placed on the Commerce Department's entity list, maintained a relationship with the Russian firm even after the invasion of Ukraine.

Sinno did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Taco LLC in Armenia; Russia's Novastream Limited; a Belarusian state-owned supplier, and Russian technology and defense firms were among other companies designated over Russia's defense procurement.

Family members

Treasury also designated family members of Russia’s National Security Council, such as Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin’s wife and two adult children, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s wife and adult children and National Guard head Viktor Zolotov’s wife and adult children.

In addition, the immediate family members of the deputy chairman of Russia’s Federation Security Council Dmitry Medvedev, Speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko, and Saint Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov were hit with sanctions.

The US State Department in a separate statement said it imposed visa restrictions on more than 900 people, including members of the Russian and Belarusian military and "Russia’s proxies for violating Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence," barring them from traveling to the United States.

The United States singled out a Russian national, Ochur-Suge Mongush, for his involvement in what US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called "a gross violation of human rights perpetrated against a Ukrainian prisoner of war," and said Mongush and his immediate family members cannot enter the United States.

Canada also announced on Friday measures against dozens of oligarchs, financial elites and their family members, plus 35 Russian-backed senior officials in the regions where the referendums took place.

Washington's targets are largely proportionate to Russia's annexation, said Brian O'Toole, a former Treasury official now with the Atlantic Council think tank.

The action against Sinno Electronics serves as a warning to other Chinese companies and those that might do business with Russia, he said.

"I'm impressed at how robust this is given that this was a relatively short turnaround," O'Toole said.

Russia declared the annexations on Friday after holding what it called referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine. Western governments and Kyiv said the votes breached international law and were coercive and non-representative.

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday about their "shared concern" over the Russian annexation and the need to protect critical infrastructure after the apparent sabotage of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the United States said.



Biden Battles COVID and Democrats as Crisis Grows

President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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Biden Battles COVID and Democrats as Crisis Grows

President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Joe Biden holed up at his beach house Thursday, battling both a bout of COVID and calls by senior allies for him to abandon his 2024 reelection bid.

While rival Donald Trump prepared for his star turn at the Republican National Convention, the 81-year-old US president found himself in both personal and political isolation.

The top Democrats in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, both reportedly met with Biden in recent days to warn that his candidacy threatens his party's prospects in November's election.

Influential former House speaker Nancy Pelosi added to his woes by privately telling Biden he cannot win and could harm Democrats' chances of recapturing the lower chamber, CNN reported.

Several party figures were meanwhile quoted anonymously by the Axios news outlet as saying that they believed the pressure would persuade Biden to drop out as soon as this weekend.

Biden has insisted he is not backing down, adamant that he is the candidate who beat Trump before and will do it again this year. Pressed about reports that Biden might be softening to the idea of leaving the race, his deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks said Thursday: “He is not wavering on anything.”

"He's staying in the race," Fulks told a press conference on the sidelines of the Republican convention in Milwaukee.

"Our campaign is not working through any scenarios where President Biden is not the top of the ticket -- he is and will be the Democratic nominee."

California Senator Alex Padilla said Biden was "not skipping a beat."

"I know having spoken to him personally he's committed to the campaign," he added.

Using mountains of data showing Biden’s standing could wipe out the ranks of Democrats in Congress, frank conversations in public and private, and now, the president’s own time off the campaign trail after testing positive for COVID-19, many Democrats see an opportunity to encourage a reassessment.

Biden told reporters on Wednesday that he was "doing well."

His COVID diagnosis however came at the worst possible time for his campaign, forcing him to cut short a trip to Las Vegas and isolate at his holiday home in Rehoboth, Delaware.

The split-screen with Trump could not have been more stark, with Trump set to formally accept the Republican nomination in Milwaukee.

US networks showed images of frail looking Biden gingerly descending the steps of Air Force One in Delaware, in a week when Trump is lauded by supporters each night at a packed party convention.

Former president Trump, who at 78 is just three years younger than Biden, is riding a wave of support from his party after surviving an assassination attempt on Saturday that left him with a bandaged ear.

The United States could now be approaching the climax of an extraordinary three weeks in politics, which started when Biden gave a disastrous performance during a televised debate with Trump.

Biden blamed jet lag and a cold, but the fact that America's commander-in-chief has now fallen ill for a second time just as fears grow about his fitness for the job has merely intensified the panic in Democratic ranks.