Biden condemns Russia’s ‘fraudulent’ annexation declaration

WASHINGTON — US President Joe Biden on Friday condemned Russia’s “fraudulent” declaration that it had annexed four regions of Ukraine, saying Moscow violated international law.

“The United States today condemns Russia’s fraudulent attempt to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory. Russia violates international law, tramples on the United Nations Charter and everywhere shows its contempt for peaceful nations,” Biden said in a statement.

“The United States will always respect Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders. We will continue to support Ukraine’s efforts to regain control of its territory by strengthening its hand militarily and diplomatically, including through the $1.1 billion in additional security assistance the United States announced this week have,” Biden said.

The European Union said it strongly condemned the annexation, adding it would never recognize “illegal” referendums there and tightening its sanctions to increase pressure on Moscow.

The European Council, which comprises the 27 EU member states, said in a statement on behalf of those members that Russia’s willful undermining of the international order endangers global security.

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“We do not and never will recognize the illegal ‘referendums’ staged by Russia as a pretext for this further violation of Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, nor their falsified and illegal results,” the statement said .

“We will step up our restrictive measures against Russia’s illegal actions. They will continue to increase pressure on Russia to end its war of aggression,” it said.

New US sanctions against Russia

The US announced a long list of new sanctions on Friday after Russia officially announced plans to annex four regions of Ukraine.

Sanctions freeze any assets that a blacklisted person or entity may have under US jurisdiction. They also ban US citizens or corporations — including foreign banks with US branches — from doing business with those blacklisted, in part to block any international financial transactions they attempt.

Sanctions on Individuals: The US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on 14 people in “Russia’s military-industrial complex” and 278 members of the legislature, particularly members of the Federation Council, the upper house, for their support for the invasion of Ukraine. Most members of the lower house, the Duma, were under sanctions; The Treasury added all those not previously blacklisted.

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Bank governor targeted: The Ministry of Finance imposed sanctions on Russia’s central bank governor Elvira Nabiullina and her first deputy Olga Skorobogatova. Nabiullina “has overseen his efforts to protect the Kremlin from Western sanctions” over Russian attacks on Ukraine, it said. Britain also imposed sanctions on Nabiullina on Friday.

Families affected: The US Treasury and State Departments extended sanctions to the immediate family members of top officials, including Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, National Guard Chief Viktor Solotov, Deputy Security Council Chairman and former President Dmitry Medvedev and the Mayor of Moscow and Governor of St. Petersburg.

Threats from Foreign Supporters: The United States also increased pressure by threatening sanctions to foreign individuals, companies, and countries that showed support for the annexation.

“We will hold accountable any individual, organization or country that provides political or economic support to Russia’s illegal attempts to change the status of Ukrainian territory,” Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said.

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Blinken said the warning was backed by G7 leaders.

Companies under fire: The US Treasury and Commerce Departments have named dozens of companies in Russia and occupied Crimea under sanctions and bans, many of them in the defense and technology sectors.

The Ministry of Finance selected the executives of the already sanctioned Radioavtomatika, which acquires foreign technologies and materials for Russia’s defense sector. It also named “front companies” for radioavtomatika, including companies in China and Armenia.

US travel ban: The State Department has imposed visa restrictions on 910 Russians and Belarusians, preventing them from entering the United States.

As is customary, the names will not be released publicly, but the State Department said they include Russian and Belarusian military officials and people representing Russia in occupied Ukraine.