US imposes new sanctions on Russian billionaire, EU increases economic pressure on Moscow

The United States, the European Union and other allies increased their economic pressure on Russia on Friday, moving to strip Moscow of privileged trade and economic treatment among other steps to punish it for its invasion of Ukraine. Is.

US President Joe Biden said collectively the new actions would further strain a Russian economy already weighed down by previously announced international sanctions that have dented the ruble and forced the stock market to close. Is done.

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Referring to the termination of normal trade relations, Biden said: “Doing it together with other countries that make up half of the global economy would be another crushing blow to the Russian economy which has already been hit hard by our sanctions.” suffering badly.”

The measures announced by the European Union, the United States and other G7 allies are equivalent to a fourth set of sanctions against Russia over the February 24 invasion.

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These include efforts to end Moscow’s “most favored nation” trade status, open the door to imposing sanctions or punitive tariffs on Russian goods, and placing Russia on a par with North Korea or Iran.

They would also ban luxury goods exported from their countries to Russia, which was designed as a blow to the Russian elite.

As a first step, the EU will impose restrictions on imports of iron and steel sector goods from Russia. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU is also working to suspend Russia’s membership rights of major multilateral institutions including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and crack down on the use of crypto-assets.

The Commerce Department said the US ban on luxury exports, including expensive watches, vehicles, clothing, alcohol and jewelry, to Russia and its ally Belarus comes into force with immediate effect.

The US Congress would need to pass legislation to repeal Russia’s trade status quo, and lawmakers are moving in that direction. The United States also went on to close the development fund, announcing a ban on imports of Russian seafood, vodka, and diamonds. The White House said Biden would impose sanctions on US investments in Russia beyond the energy sector.

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Top US imports from Russia included mineral fuels, precious metals and stones, iron and steel, fertilizers and inorganic chemicals, all goods that could face high tariffs once Congress revoked Russia’s favored nation trade status. Were.

The United States imposed sanctions on more Russian oligarchs, politicians and elites, targeting members of the lower house of parliament and billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, among others. The US Treasury Department said those affected by the new sanctions included 10 people on VTB Bank’s VTBR.MM board, 12 members of the Duma and family members of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Russian forces invaded Ukraine last month in the biggest attack on a European state since World War II. Russia calls the action a “special operation”.

“Russia cannot grossly violate international law and can expect to profit from being part of the international economic order,” the White House said in a statement.

The United States also imposed North Korea-related sanctions targeting Russian individuals and companies after Pyongyang used its largest-ever intercontinental ballistic missile system in two recent launches, US and South Korean officials said.

Meanwhile, Britain imposed sanctions on 386 members of the Duma and also said it would try to ban the export of luxury goods to Russia. The European Union has already approved the same group of lawmakers.

Britain’s announcement said the sanctions targeted those who voted for the invasion to recognize the independence of Ukraine’s largely Russian-speaking regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.

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