US, EU, UK, Japan, Germany, Canada sanctions Russia over ‘Ukraine invasion’

The US has hit Russia with wide-ranging sanctions over what President Joe Biden called “the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine”.

“We’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western financing,” Mr. Biden said.

It came after Russian politicians authorised Russian President Vladimir Putin to send troops into two rebel-held parts of eastern Ukraine.

Russia has recognised the regions as independent – a move Ukraine said attacks its sovereignty.

Western nations largely see the action as a pretext for a wider invasion.

Announcing his “first tranche” of measures directly targeting the Russian state, Mr. Biden said on Tuesday: “To put it simply, Russia just announced that it is carving out a big chunk of Ukraine.”

The moves include sanctions on Russia’s foreign debt, meaning the country can no longer raise money for its state financing from Western financial institutions.

The US is also punishing high-ranking “elites” from Russia.

The US had already banned American companies from dealing with the rebel-held Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk – but few companies do.

The UK and European Union also announced a wave of sanctions against Russian banks and individuals earlier on Tuesday.

All 27 EU member states agreed a range of anti-Russia measures, targeting all 351 members of Russia’s upper house that voted to recognise the two breakaway regions of Ukraine as independent states. The EU’s response also targets 27 individuals and entities involved in the decision.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that five banks have had their assets frozen in Britain, along with three Russian billionaires who will be hit with UK travel bans. Canada, Japan and Australia later confirmed similar measures.

Germany also halted a major joint infrastructure project with Russia, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, despite Europe’s reliance on Russian gas supplies and the fact that the €10bn (£8.3bn) project is ready to open supply lines.

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