WASHINGTON: The United States on Friday (May 19) announced sanctions on more than 300 targets as Group of Seven leaders met in Japan, aiming to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and intensifying one of the harshest sanctions efforts ever implemented.
The move, which targets Russia’s sanctions evasion, future energy revenues and military-industrial supply chains, marks the latest sanctions and export controls targeting Moscow, which have already hit thousands of targets and imposed steep curbs on Russia.
“Today’s actions will further tighten the vise on (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s ability to wage his barbaric invasion and will advance our global efforts to cut off Russian attempts to evade sanctions,” US Treasury Department Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.
Russia’s foreign ministry said former US President Barack Obama was among 500 American citizens who would be banned in response to the latest round of US sanctions.
The ministry also said Russia had refused the latest US request for consular access to detained reporter Evan Gershkovich, who faces spying charges.
The US and Europe imposed financial penalties on Russia immediately following the start of the war last year and have steadily ratcheted up the pressure since then, targeting Putin and officials close to him, the financial sector and oligarchs.
Experts say Washington could still impose tougher penalties, however – while the sanctions have clearly damaged Russia’s economy, they have so far failed to stop Putin from pursuing a war that has killed tens of thousands and turned cities to rubble.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday’s action targeted an international network that procures components for the Russia-based entity responsible for the manufacture of the Orlan drone, which Russian forces and their proxies are using in Ukraine.
An investigation by Reuters and iStories, a Russian media outlet, in collaboration with the Royal United Services Institute, a defence think tank in London, last year uncovered a logistical trail that spans the globe and ends at the Orlan’s production line, the Special Technology Centre in St Petersburg, Russia.
The investigation found that among the most important suppliers to Russia’s drone programme has been a Hong Kong-based exporter, Asia Pacific Links, which was targeted by Washington on Friday, as was import company SMT iLogic.