Freezing of bank accounts and travel ban: the details of the new sanctions against Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin (Thibault Camus/Pool via REUTERS) (POOL/)

With a military intervention in Ukraine off the table, and countries around the world looking to impose further financial punishment on Moscow, The United States, Britain and the European Union said on Friday that will take measures to sanction the Russian presidentVladimir Putin, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov.

The unanimous decision of the EU, part of a broader sanctions packageindicated that Western powers are moving towards unprecedented measures to try to force Putin to stop the brutal invasion of Russia‘s neighbor and unleash a major war in Europe. British Prime Minister, Boris Johnsonalso told NATO leaders during a call on Friday that Big Britain would move to impose sanctions against Putin and Lavrov. The EU said it would take steps to freeze Putin’s assets.

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki indicated that the US sanctions will include a travel ban. President Joe Biden, who had previously said sanctions against Putin were being considered, decided to take the step in the past 24 hours after talks with European leaders.

The US Treasury Department is expected to release more details later on Friday.

Psaki said the measure is intended to send “a clear message about the strength of the opposition to the actions” of the West against President Putin.

Canada also announced that he will sanction Putin and Lavrov, and it will also impose punitive measures against Belarus for “facilitating” the invasion of Ukraine. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “We will impose sanctions on President Putin and his fellow architects of this barbaric war, his chief of staff and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. These men bear the greatest responsibility for the death and destruction that occurs in Ukraine.”

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said the move would be “a unique step in history towards a nuclear powera country that has a permanent seat on the Security Council, but also shows… how united we are.”

The possibility of leaving Russia out of Swift is still on the table (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration)
The possibility of leaving Russia out of Swift is still on the table (REUTERS / Given Ruvic / Illustration) (DADO RUVIC /)

It was unclear what the practical impact would be on the two men and how significant their EU assets were.

“I can assure you that if you have important assets and suddenly you can’t get hold of them, it will cost you”, said the head of foreign affairs of the EU, Josep Borrell. He did not provide details.

EU ministers have said that further sanctions are still possible, including Russia’s expulsion from SWIFTthe dominant system for global financial transactions.

“The debate on SWIFT is not out of the question, it will continue,” said Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn. Justin Trudeau also supports vetoing her access to Russia.

Further admonishing Russia, the Council of Europe suspended Russia from the main human rights organization on the continent. The 47-nation council said Russia it remained a member and continued to be bound by the relevant human rights conventions.

Undeterred in the game of punitive sanctions, Russia started its own tit-for-tat measures, banning British flights to and over its territory in retaliation for a similar UK ban on Aeroflot flights.

Russian authorities also announced the “partial restriction” of access to Facebook after the social network limited the accounts of various Kremlin-backed outlets. Russia’s state communications regulator Roskomnadzor said it has demanded that Facebook lift restrictions it placed on the state news agency on Thursday. RIA Novostithe state television channel Zvezda and pro-Kremlin news sites Slow.Ru and Gazeta.Ru.

However, with the Kremlin’s eyes completely focused on expanding attacks on Ukraine, almost all the action was still in one direction.

Russian authorities also announced the
Russian authorities also announced the “partial restriction” of access to Facebook after the social network limited the accounts of several Kremlin-backed media outlets (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo) (Dado Ruvic/)

The EU and other Western powers such as the United States and the United Kingdom have agreed to a series of sanctions targeting sectors ranging from Russia’s banking sector to its oil refineries and defense industry.

And just as Russia was making a pincer move to suffocate Ukraine and its capital, Kiev, Western powers were implementing measures aimed at “stifling the economy of Russia”, in the words of the French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Seeking to reinforce its eastern flank, the NATO alliance celebrated a virtual summit of government leaders, including United States President Joe Biden, later on Friday.

In terms not heard since the Cold War, threats flew everywhere and ran through society.

In a sign of papal wrath, Pope Francis he himself went to the russian embassy to “express concern about the war”the Vatican said. It was an extraordinary practical gesture, as popes usually host ambassadors and heads of state at the Vatican. For Francis, the Vatican head of state, leaving the city-state and traveling a short distance to the Russian Embassy to the Holy See was a sign of his displeasure.

Putin’s invasion also had repercussions in the world of sport.

The UEFA Champions League final on 28 May was removed from Saint Petersburg and replaced by Paris after the participation of French President Emmanuel Macron. Formula One has also canceled this season’s Russian Grand Prix at Sochi in protest.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced targeted travel bans against Russian officials and other measures (EFE/EPA/PETER MEECHAM)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced targeted travel bans against Russian officials and other measures (EFE/EPA/PETER MEECHAM) (PETER MEECHAM/)

And in pop culture, the very popular song contest of Eurovision also banned Russia from participating in the May finals in Turin, Italy.

The action was not just limited to the Western powers. Asia-Pacific countries have joined the US, EU and other Western countries in piling on punitive measures against Russian banks and major companies. Nations have also established export controls aimed at depriving Russia’s industries and military of semiconductors and other high-tech products.

Japan must clearly show its position that we will never tolerate any attempt to change the status quo by force“, He said Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to journalists on Friday announcing new measures that included freezing the visas and assets of Russian groups, banks and individuals, and the suspension of shipments of semiconductors and other restricted goods to Russian organizations linked to the military.

The Prime Minister of New ZealandJacinda Ardern said that “an unthinkable number of innocent lives could be lost due to Russia’s decision,” announcing targeted travel bans against Russian officials and other measures.

Taiwan announced on Friday that he would join the economic sanctions, although he did not specify what they would be. They could potentially focus on export control of semiconductor chips, where Taiwan is the dominant producer.

While most Asian nations rallied behind Ukraine, China continued to denounce the sanctions against Russia and blamed the United States and its allies for provoking Moscow. Beijing, worried about American power in Asia, has increasingly aligned its foreign policy with Russia to challenge the West.

The Chinese government is complying with the relaxation of trade restrictions with Russia and that is simply unacceptableAustralian Prime Minister Scott Morrison complained. “You don’t go and throw a lifeline to Russia in the middle of a period when they’re invading another country”, he added.

(With information from AP)

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