White House: US, allies to ban new investment in Russia

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WASHINGTON (AP) – The United States and Western allies plan to impose additional sanctions on Russia on Wednesday after disturbing new evidence of war crimes in Ukraine emerged, according to the White House. The new penalties include a ban on all new investments in Russia.

Other measures being taken against Russia include increased sanctions against its financial institutions and state-owned companies, as well as sanctions against government officials and their family members, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

“The goal is to force them to make a choice,” she said. “Most of our goal here is to deplete the resources that Putin has to continue his war against Ukraine.”

Separately, the Treasury Department on Tuesday decided to block all Russian government debt payments in US dollars from accounts with US financial institutions, making it harder for Russia to meet its financial obligations.

The Biden administration also announced Tuesday night that it would send $100 million in additional military aid to Ukraine. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the new equipment will address “an urgent Ukrainian need for additional Javelin armor systems.”

President Joe Biden and US allies have worked together to impose crippling economic sanctions on Russia over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine more than a month ago, including freezing central bank assets, export controls and confiscating property, including yachts, owned by Russia’s wealthy elite. However, in response to the attacks, killings and destruction in the Ukrainian city of Bucha, increased calls for tougher sanctions have been voiced this week.

The sanctions are designed to further Russia’s economic, financial and technological “isolation” from the rest of the world as punishment for its attacks on civilians in Ukraine, Psaki said. This isolation is a key aspect of US strategy, which is based on the idea that Russia will ultimately lack the resources and equipment to continue a prolonged war in Ukraine.

Psaki said the government is reviewing “additional consequences and steps we can take,” but stressed that Biden was not considering military action.

An increasingly desperate Russia has engaged in military tactics that have outraged much of the wider world community, leading to charges that it is committing war crimes and imposing other sanctions.

Nonetheless, almost the entire EU has renounced a total ban on Russian oil and natural gas, which would likely destroy Russia’s economy. The US banned fossil fuels from Russia, while Lithuania blocked natural gas from that country on Saturday, becoming the first of the 27 EU members to do so. The EU executive on Tuesday proposed a ban on Russian coal, while the German government intends to phase out the use of Russian natural gas over the next two years.

On Monday, Biden demanded that his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin be tried for war crimes and face new sanctions over atrocities and abuses around Kyiv after Russian forces withdrew from the Ukrainian capital. The bodies of what appeared to be civilians were seen strewn in courtyards, many of whom were probably killed at close range.

Biden said the US and its allies were gathering details for a war crimes trial, stressing that Putin was “brutal” and his actions “outrageous”.

Associated Press journalists saw dozens of bodies in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv. At least 13 bodies lay in and around a building, which locals said was used as a base by Russian troops. Three other bodies were found in a stairwell and a group of six were burned together.

Many victims the AP saw appeared to have been shot at point-blank range. Some were shot in the head. At least two had their hands tied. A bag of spilled groceries lay next to one of the victims.

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