‘Preemptive Sanctions’ Against Russia Over Ukraine Almost Ready, Senior US Senator Says
16:35 GMT 03.02.2022 (Updated: 19:03 GMT 03.02.2022)
© AP Photo / Alexander ZemlianichenkoA U.S flag waves on the car of U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan next to the main entrance to the Russian Foreign Ministry building during Sullivan's visit to the Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. Sullivan delivered a U.S. response to the Russian demands for security guarantees over NATO and Ukraine.
© AP Photo / Alexander Zemlianichenko
Washington and its allies have threatened to slap Moscow with several rounds of tough sanctions targeting everything from Russian sovereign debt to the foreign assets and property of businessmen should Russia “invade” Ukraine. In a rare note of consensus unseen in years, Moscow and Kiev have each dismissed the “invasion” claims.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is on the brink of reaching an agreement to roll out new “preventative” sanctions against Russia, Senator Jeanne Shaheen has announced.
“As we look at what’s happening right now in Ukraine, this is the potential for the biggest conflict since World War II, and if we don’t take a stand against [Vladimir] Putin now and hold him accountable, it’s not at all clear what country is going to be next,” Shaheen said, speaking at a virtual forum held by the Center for Strategic & International Studies, a Washington-based think tank on Wednesday.
“We are very close to having an agreement between the chair and ranking member on the Foreign Relations Committee on a bill that would look at preemptive sanctions, ones that we can put in place that respond to what we’ve already seen from Russia in terms of their aggressive behaviour,” the Democrat senator from New Hampshire said.
On top of that, Shaheen warned that Washington was also “looking at” “massive sanctions on Putin and Russia so that should he invade Ukraine, he would feel and the country would feel very directly, the impact of those sanctions.”
Shaheen and a bipartisan delegation of senators travelled to Ukraine last month, meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other officials. “What we heard from the Ukrainians is that they’re ready to fight,” she said, noting that the country has built up a professional military with Western aid.
2 February 2022, 11:28 GMT
No 'Invasion' to Fear, Ukraine Says
Senior Ukrainian officials including President Volodymyr Zelensky, the country’s defence minister, and the secretary of the National Security and Defence Council have recently broken with their Western patrons regarding the “Russian invasion” danger, either privately or publicly dismissing US and European chatter about “Russian invasion” plans, and criticizing foreign media for whipping up tensions.
“We are assessing the situation at a distance of 200 km from the border. [The Russians] are constantly pulling up and then withdrawing troops, conducting exercises. I can say with absolute certainty that as of today, the Russian armed forces have not created a strike group that could carry out an invasion,” Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said last week.
Moscow has repeatedly denied that it has any plans to invade its neighbour, and accused Western powers of stoking tensions as an excuse to beef up NATO’s military presence near Russia’s borders. On Wednesday, the Pentagon announced that President Biden has approved redeploying 1,000 US troops from Germany to Romania, with 2,000 more to be shipped out to Poland and Germany from the US in the coming days. On top of that, the US will continue to maintain and possibly beef up the 8,500 troop-strong ‘heightened alert’ force stationed in the US and ready to ship out to Europe at a moment’s notice.
Also on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the administration would no longer use the word “imminent” to describe the possibility of a Russian “invasion” of Ukraine because it “still [doesn’t] know” whether President Putin has “made a decision” to attack the country.
31 January 2022, 17:47 GMT
Putin blasted the US and its NATO allies on Tuesday, saying that the Western bloc had failed to take Russian concerns about NATO’s expansion and the deployment of missile systems near Russian borders into account.
The Russian Foreign Ministry published a pair of security proposals aimed at significantly easing tensions between Moscow and the West – including by limiting troop, missile, aircraft and warship deployments near one another’s borders. The proposals asked the US and NATO to commit to halt the Western bloc’s expansion into any more former Soviet republics, including Ukraine and Georgia, and limit troop deployments to countries that joined the alliance after the end of the Cold War. US and NATO officials formally rejected the Russian proposals last week, saying the alliance’s ‘open door’ policy will not be scrapped. Moscow has warned that it will be forced to create a system of “counter-threats” if its security proposals were rejected but has yet to reveal what these may look like.
31 January 2022, 02:21 GMT