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US, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan impose sanctions on Russia

Leaders of US, UK, Canada, Japan and Australia have announced new sanctions on Russia, including top officials, financial transaction, trade, travel, issuing visas, for “beginning” an invasion of Ukraine as Vladimir Putin signaled plans to send troops beyond Russia’s borders.

President Joe Biden said on Tuesday the United States was imposing a first tranche of sanctions against Russia for launching an invasion of Ukraine and promised that more would come if there are further incursions.

Biden, speaking to reporters at the White House, said the United States would impose sanctions against two large Russian financial institutions and Russian sovereign debt. Sanctions were imposed against Russian elites and their family members as well, administration officials said.

One of the worst security crises in Europe in decades is unfolding as Russian President Vladimir Putin authorised sending what he calls peacekeping troops to the separatist areas of Donetsk and Luhansk after recognising them as independent. Both adjoin Russia and have been controlled by Russian-backed fighters since 2014.

“I’m going to begin to impose sanctions in response, far beyond the steps we and our allies and partners implemented in 2014,” he added, in a reference to Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Sanctions are being applied to VEB bank and Russia’s military bank, referring to Promsvyazbank, which does defence deals, Biden said. Starting on Wednesday US sanctions will begin against Russian elites and their family members.

Britain on Tuesday slapped sanctions on five Russian banks and three billionaires, in what Prime Minister Boris Johnson called “the first barrage” of measures in response to the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine.

Addressing the UK parliament hours after Russia ordered troops into two Moscow-backed Ukrainian rebel regions, Johnson described it as “a renewed invasion” of its western neighbour and “pretext for a full-scale offensive”.

“The UK and our allies will begin to impose the sanctions on Russia that we have already prepared… to sanction Russian individuals and entities of strategic importance to the Kremlin,” he told MPs, AFP reports.

The five banks targeted — Rossiya, IS Bank, General Bank, Promsvyazbank and the Black Sea Bank — and three people sanctioned will see any UK assets frozen

The individuals concerned — Gennady Timchenko, Boris Rotenberg and Igor Rotenberg — will be banned from travelling to Britain and all UK individuals and entities will be banned from dealing with them and the banks.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday announced economic sanctions on Russia, saying Moscow’s actions against Ukraine were “a further invasion of a sovereign state, and it is completely unacceptable.”

 “We will ban Canadians from engaging in purchases of Russian sovereign debt. And we will apply additional sanctions on to state-backed Russian banks and prevent any financial dealings with them,” Trudeau said, announcing a series of measures.

Australia announced sanctions on eight of President Vladimir Putin’s top security advisors on Wednesday following Russia’s “unwarranted, unprovoked, unacceptable” invasion of Ukraine.

Pillorying Putin’s decision to order troops into breakaway Kremlin-backed statelets in Ukraine’s east, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a suite of sanctions that closely echoed moves from other US allies.

Eight members of Russia’s security council will face sanctions, including travel bans, and Australia will move to target military-linked Russian banks.

“They are behaving like thugs and bullies,” Morrison said, predicting a full-scale invasion was likely “in the next 24 hours.”

Japan will impose sanctions on Russia and individuals linked to eastern Ukrainian regions controlled by pro-Kremlin separatists, the country’s prime minister said Wednesday, after Moscow ordered troops into the disputed territory.

The measures follow decisions by the United States, Britain and the European Union to penalize Russian entities in the wake of President Vladimir Putin’s decision to send soldiers into Donetsk and Lugansk.

Tokyo’s sanctions include a ban on issuing visas to individuals linked to the “so-called two republics” as well as freezing their assets and barring trade with the regions.

They also ban the issuing and trade of Russian government bonds in Japan.

“We continue to monitor with grave concern,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.

“From the viewpoint of responding to the issue in cooperation with the international community, Japan decided to impose sanctions,” he said.

Japan “strongly condemns” Russia’s actions, he added, “that infringe on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, violating international law,” adding that further sanctions were possible “if the situation worsens.”