NATIONAL NEWS

Here come more sanctions: How effective are they are stopping Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?

May 19, 2023, 11:45 AM

From left, European Council President Charles Michel, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni, Canada's Prim...

From left, European Council President Charles Michel, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pose for the family photo at the Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima, western Japan, Friday, May 19, 2023. (Stefan Rousseau/Pool Photo via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Stefan Rousseau/Pool Photo via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. and other Group of Seven nations rolled out a new wave of global sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine as they met Friday during a summit in Japan. The sanctions target hundreds of people and firms — including those helping Russia to evade existing sanctions and export controls. Some of the sanctions focus on additional sectors of Russia’s economy, including architecture, construction and transportation.

After 15 months of war, the allied nations are still aiming at new targets for financial penalties that block, freeze and seize access to international funds.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the newest sanctions will tighten the grip 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.”

But there are limits to how much impact they can have.

A look at the sanctions dynamics:

WHAT’S IN THE NEWEST ROUND?

The U.K imposed sanctions on 86 people and companies, including parties connected to the theft and resale of Ukrainian grain. It also banned the import of diamonds from Russia. The European Union, too, plans to restrict trade in Russian diamonds.

The U.S. hit individuals and organizations across 20 countries, focusing on people and firms helping the Kremlin evade existing sanctions to procure technology. The Commerce Department added 71 firms to its list, and the State Department put 200 people, firms and vessels on its blocked list.

Additionally, new U.S. reporting requirements were issued for people and firms that have any interest in Russian Central Bank assets. The purpose is to “fully map holdings of Russia’s sovereign assets that will remain immobilized in G7 jurisdictions until Russia pays for the damage it has caused to Ukraine,” the Treasury Department said.

HOW EFFECTIVE HAVE THE SANCTIONS BEEN SO FAR?

While the U.S. and other G7 nations have turned Russia into the most sanctioned country in the world, some foreign policy experts question the effectiveness of the financial penalties and point to Russia’s maneuvers to evade them and press its war effort.

Maria Snegovaya, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Russia has demonstrated “a remarkable degree of adaptability to Western sanctions.”

She added that the war is “relatively cheap” for Russia to prosecute, amounting to up to an estimated 5% of GDP.

“That is easily manageable for Russia in the next couple of years at least, and the cumulative effect of sanctions is just not strong enough to radically alter that,” she said.

U.S. officials defend the effectiveness of the sanctions, and argue that they are not designed to work immediately.

Along with imposing individual sanctions, the U.S. and allies have frozen Russian Central Bank funds, restricted Russian banks’ access to SWIFT — the dominant system for global financial transactions — and imposed a $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil and diesel.

The Treasury Department on Friday in a new progress report said the price cap has been successful in suppressing Russian oil revenues. It cited Russian Ministry of Finance data showing that the Kremlin’s oil revenues from January to March of this year were more than 40% lower than in the same period last year.

“Despite widespread initial market skepticism around the price cap, market participants and geopolitical analysts have now acknowledged that the price cap is accomplishing both of its goals,” the Treasury Department report.

WHY ARE THE US AND ITS ALLIES STILL FINDING NEW TARGETS?

Treasury officials say that as sanctions are imposed, Russian intelligence keeps looking for ways to get around them, requiring constant adjustments.

Newer sanction efforts have been dedicated to the evaders and the “facilitators” of evasion, who help Russia acquire supplies and technology.

“We know the Kremlin is actively seeking ways to circumvent these sanctions,” Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo said earlier this year.

“One of the ways we know our sanctions are working is the Kremlin has tasked its intelligence services, such as the FSB and GRU, to find ways to get around them.”

Among other things, U.S. officials say, Moscow has turned to North Korea and Iran to resupply the Russian military with drones and surface-to-surface missiles.

WHAT MORE IS THERE TO SANCTION?

Treasury officials say future targets could include newly identified firms and people connected to supply chains that help Russia gain materials for the war, front companies that help Russia evade sanctions and rogue actors from North Korea and Iran.

For the past month, Treasury officials Brian Nelson and Liz Rosenberg have traveled across Europe and Central Asia to press countries that do business with the Kremlin to cut off financial ties because of the war on Ukraine.

They are also increasingly sharing intelligence between countries and firms to spot evasion.

There are also calls for the U.S. and allies to confiscate and transfer Russia’s central bank funds to Ukraine for the war effort.

“The G7 countries must sustain and augment their efforts, including by confiscating frozen reserves of the Central Bank of Russia to help fund Ukraine’s reconstruction,” said Jeffrey J. Schott, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

National News

President Joe Biden and Maritza Rodriguez, Biden for President Latina adviser, greets patrons at Li...

Associated Press

President Joe Biden tests positive for COVID-19 while campaigning in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS (AP) — President Joe Biden has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a speaker at the UnidosUS annual conference broadcast on the White House’s YouTube channel. Biden was slated to speak at the event in Las Vegas Wednesday afternoon as part of an effort to rally Hispanic voters ahead of the November […]

14 minutes ago

Ukraine's Minister of Defense Rustem Umerov arrives for a social dinner for defense ministers atten...

Associated Press

Ukraine defense chief says his nation will find battlefield solutions no matter who wins US election

ASPEN, Colorado (AP) — Ukraine will find a way to battle Russia’s invading forces even if former President Donald Trump wins a second term and imperils vital U.S. support for its defense, Ukraine’s defense minister said Wednesday. In carefully framed comments to an audience of U.S. policymakers and journalists, Defense Minister Rustem Umerov reflected the […]

15 minutes ago

Associated Press

Thousands of Nebraskans with felony convictions could be denied voting rights under AG’s opinion

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Thousands of Nebraskans with felony convictions could be denied voting rights under an opinion from the state attorney general released Wednesday. Nebraska Attorney General Mike Hilgers issued an opinion that says a law passed earlier this year to immediately restore the voting rights of people who’ve finished serving their felony convictions […]

30 minutes ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret Servic...

Associated Press

Multiple failures, multiple investigations: Unraveling the attempted assassination of Donald Trump

BUTLER, Pa. (AP) — The young man was pacing around the edges of the Donald Trump campaign rally, shouldering a big backpack and peering into the lens of a rangefinder toward the rooftops behind the stage where the former president would stand. His behavior was so odd, so unlike that of the other rallygoers, that […]

57 minutes ago

Texas state District Judge J.R. Flores hears arguments from Catholic Charities attorney William Pow...

Associated Press

Another Texas migrant aid group asks a judge to push back on investigation by Republican AG

EDINBURG, Texas (AP) — A prominent aid group along the U.S.-Mexico border asked a Texas judge on Wednesday to push back on a widening Republican-led investigation into nonprofits that help migrants, weeks after a separate court rejected efforts by the state to shutter an El Paso shelter. Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley provides […]

1 hour ago

FILE - Former Mozambican finance minister, Manuel Chang, is seen in court in Kempton Park, Johannes...

Associated Press

Former Mozambique finance minister on trial in US over ‘tuna bond’ scandal that spurred debt crisis

NEW YORK (AP) — The “ tuna bond ” scandal that shook Mozambique’s economy is washing into a U.S. court, where a former Mozambican finance minister is being tried on charges that he took bribes to commit his country — secretly — to huge loans that prosecutors say got looted. When the loans — supposed […]

1 hour ago

Here come more sanctions: How effective are they are stopping Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?