US sanctions force Russia to focus on economy


Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned on Wednesday that China and other nations that refuse to sanction Russia could face future economic consequences for failing to help end Russia’s “abominable war” in Ukraine.

“To be clear, the united coalition of sanctioning countries will not be indifferent to actions that undermine sanctions,” Yellen said.

A day earlier, Deputy Finance Minister Wally Adeyemo said the latest round of sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin will force him to focus more on his country’s economy and less on the war. The sanctions will target Russian supply chains, including “military devices built not only to be used in Ukraine but to project power elsewhere,” said Adeyemo, one of the top US coordinators of sanctions strategies.

The White House said Russia’s GDP could contract by as much as 15% this year and inflation is already rising to over 15%. But Russia was able to stabilize key parts of its economy by artificially supporting the ruble, allowing it to recover quickly while the US and its allies continued to impose sanctions.

Putin has publicly shrugged off the sanctions, saying Russia is prepared for them and implying they would only serve to crash the economies of the nations that imposed the sanctions.

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Latest developments

► Cyprus announced it would strip citizenship of four Russians and 17 of their family members, who are among those sanctioned by the European Union.

► Russia has forcibly deported more than 500,000 Ukrainians to the Russian Federation, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

► More than 720 people were killed in Bucha and other Russian-held Kiev suburbs, and more than 200 are missing, the Interior Ministry said early Wednesday.

► The Biden administration is preparing another, more diverse package of military assistance, potentially totaling $750 million, to be announced in the coming days, a senior US defense official has said.

Concerned Finns prepare to join NATO

Thousands of Finns have enrolled in training associations to hone their military skills or learn new ones, an interest fueled by concerns about Finland’s geographic proximity to Russia. For the first time in Finland’s history, a majority of Finns are in favor of joining NATO. Finland, with a population of 5.5 million, remains one of the few European nations with compulsory military service, largely because of its long, 830-mile border it shares with Russia. Read more here.

“A lot of people say they’re concerned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, they want to keep their military skills up to date, they want to learn new things, they maybe want to catch up on compulsory service, which they didn’t take very seriously at the time,” said Ossi Hietala, training officer of the National Defense Training Association of Finland. “They want to make sure they’re prepared for the worst.”

Tami Abdollah

Ukrainian tennis pros will play against Team USA in North Carolina

A team of tennis players from Ukraine meets Team USA in a Billie Jean King Cup qualifier this weekend in Asheville, North Carolina. The event will raise money for Ukrainian relief efforts. Dayana Yastremska, number 93 in the world, had to flee her country when the war broke out. Yastremska, 21, and her 15-year-old sister took a small boat from Ukraine to Romania and then continued on to Lyon, France, where she rejoined the professional tennis tour, she told ESPN. Read more here.

Billie Jean King will personally donate $50,000 to the Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund, the United States Tennis Association will donate 10% of ticket sales from the event, and local sponsors have also pledged donations based on ticket sales.

James Crabtree-Hannigan, Asheville Citizen Times

The European Security Service says Russia is committing human rights abuses

Russia has violated international law and some Russians have committed war crimes in Ukraine, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe claimed in a report released on Wednesday. The report, released a day after President Joe Biden accused Russia of “genocide,” found that if Russia “complied with its (international law) obligations regarding discrimination, proportionality and precautionary measures in attacks and regarding particularly protected objects such as hospitals, the number of civilians killed or injured would have been significantly lower.”

Fewer houses, hospitals, cultural assets, schools, residential buildings and infrastructure systems would also have been damaged or destroyed, according to the report by the Austria-based agency, which covers 57 nations in Europe, North America and Asia.

Ukraine did not escape the agency’s scrutiny. Some “violations and problems” were also identified in relation to the practices of the Ukrainian military, including treating captured Russian soldiers as criminals rather than prisoners of war.

However, the report notes that a “detailed assessment of most allegations of violations of international humanitarian law and the identification of war crimes related to specific incidents was not possible”.

Baltic leaders in Ukraine show support for ailing nation

The presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were in Ukraine on Wednesday for talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Like Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were part of the Soviet Union for half a century.

Now the Baltic countries fear they could be the next targets of Russian belligerence, and together they number only about 6 million people compared to Ukraine’s 44 million. The Baltics have an advantage that Ukraine did not have – they are NATO members. NATO leaders have made it clear that the alliance will protect all of its members from Russian aggression.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has posted photos of a burnt-out high-rise apartment building on social media. “The horrors of war suffered by Ukraine cannot have been perpetrated by humans. The creatures that did this don’t deserve the name. This is a deliberate, purposeful and extremely brutal annihilation of the Ukrainian nation. Ukraine will resist. truth will win!”

Obama: Putin was ‘always reckless’ but invasion is ‘reckless’

Former President Barack Obama spoke to NBC News’ TODAY about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, answered questions about his handling of Russian relations during his tenure and the state of mind of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Obama said the war in Ukraine and Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 were a reminder “not to take our own democracy for granted,” adding that the Biden administration is “doing what it has to do.”

“Putin has always been ruthless towards his own people and others,” Obama said. “What we saw with the invasion of Ukraine is that he’s ruthless in a way that you might not have expected eight, ten years ago, but you know the danger was always there.”

Contribution: The Associated Press


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