US ratchets up sanctions pressure against Russia


WASHINGTON: The United States on Tuesday warned Moscow of damaging sanctions, including high-tech export curbs, as Russian combat troops massing around Ukraine launched new exercises.

Unveiling ways that Western allies intend to inflict “massive consequences” on Russia’s economy in the event of a Ukraine invasion, a senior US official also warned Moscow against using energy exports as a weapon.

“We are prepared to implement sanctions with massive consequences” that go far beyond previous measures implemented in 2014 after Russia invaded Ukraine’s Crimea region, the official said. “The gradualism of the past is out,” the official told reporters.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson echoed the threat, saying sanctions would be “heavier than anything we’ve ever done before.” New measures would include restrictions on exports of high-tech US equipment in the artificial intelligence, quantum computing and aerospace sectors, the US official said.“What we’re talking about are sophisticated technologies that we design and produce” and cutting them off would hit President Vladimir Putin’s “strategic ambitions to industrialise his economy quite hard,” the official told reporters.

A day after Washington said it was putting 8,500 US troops on alert for possible deployment to bolster Nato forces in Europe, the Russian military announced it was conducting new drills involving 6,000 troops near Ukraine and within the Crimea region.

The drills included firing exercises with fighter jets, bombers, anti-aircraft systems and ships from the Black Sea and Caspian fleets, the defence ministry said.

Read: Germany urges ‘prudence’ in potential sanctions against Russia over Ukraine

According to Western officials, the Kremlin has already deployed more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders, with reinforcements arriving from all over Russia.

The United States and its EU allies accuse Russia of seeking to upend European stability by threatening invasion of Ukraine, a former Soviet republic striving to join Nato and other Western institutions. “Russia has placed a gun to Ukraine’s head,” Johnson told parliament.

Moscow denies plans to invade the country, where in addition to seizing Crimea it backs separatist forces controling a swath of eastern Ukraine.

Russia blames the West for the tension and has put forward a list of demands, including a guarantee that Ukraine never join Nato and that Nato forces already in the former Soviet bloc pull back.

Addressing concerns in Europe that Russia could curb energy exports to heavily dependent Europe, the senior US official said Russia would also be hurting itself.

Read: West warns Russia against ‘any’ Ukraine incursion

“If Russia decides to weaponize its supply of natural gas or crude oil, it wouldn’t be without consequences to the Russian economy,” a senior US official told reporters.

Although the European Union sources about 40 percent of its supply from Russia, Moscow also relies heavily on sales of energy for its national budget, meaning “it’s an interdependency,” the official said.

The United States and its European allies are scouring global markets for alternative energy sources to mitigate fallout from any conflict, as Europe already finds itself struggling with soaring mid-winter energy prices.

Negotiations in European cities this month have failed to ease tensions, though US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed at a meeting in Geneva on Friday to keep talking.

Discussion1 Comment

  1. USA is using scare tactics.

    NATO is a fool to look to go to war on its door step and switch of gas supply.

    My Guy Putin just grabbed biden by his ba!!$ and Biden is screaming out.

    USA can NOT open up a front with Russia.

    USA must accept its inevitable demise with dignity and not go down as a tyrant who fell face flat.

    Russia has legitimate security concerns and this is no longer the cold war. You no longer have an ally in Pakistan because you selected the hanood gao mutra drinkers. Tbh Pakistan was always destined to be closer to Russia as per Shaheed Liaquat Ali Khan’s wishes.

    On that note international powers are trying to defame Imran Khan and topple him to bring back their loyal disgusting puppets namely Shareef or Zaedari even a fat Molana but it will NOT HAPPEN.

    We welcome Martial Law but we can not welcome a fat molana, Shareef or Zardaei NOR from within PTI.

    Give IK 5 more years I say 10 more years.

    2030 will be a new Pakistan let Imran take you there.

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