G-7 issues new sanctions against Russia over Ukraine

The U.S., European Union and Group of Seven leaders on Sunday unveiled a fresh round of sanctions targeting Russia’s industrial sector, state-controlled media and Russian and Belarusian finance executives from major banks including Russia’s Gazprombank.

The G-7 countries — including Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Canada and Italy — also vowed to phase out or ban the import of Russian oil, a move that European leaders have so far resisted but that was proposed by the European Union last week. The U.S. has already banned the import of Russian oil, gas and coal as a result of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine that began in late February.

The announcement came as President Biden held virtual talks with G-7 leaders along with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the eve of Russia’s Victory Day, marking the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.

In a statement following the call, which lasted roughly an hour, G-7 leaders said they assured Zelensky of “our full solidarity and support,” pledging additional assistance since the beginning of the war of more than $24 billion for 2022.

“In the coming weeks, we will step up our collective short-term financial support to help Ukraine close financing gaps and deliver basic services to its people, while also developing options — working with the Ukrainian authorities and international financial institutions — to support long-term recovery and reconstruction,” the statement read.

The latest sanctions also prohibit Western professional service groups, including international management consulting and accounting firms such as Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC, from doing business with any individual in the Russian Federation. U.S. officials believe some of these groups have been asked to help Russian companies reformulate their business strategies to evade sanctions or conceal their wealth, a senior administration official told reporters on condition of anonymity in order to discuss details of the announcement. The ban, however, does not extend to legal services.

“We picked goods, we picked services, we’ve picked technologies that we and the Europeans and the G-7, and our partners in Asia, were the dominant suppliers of and we don’t think Russia has many options other than to try to produce these goods and services domestically, which I think will be a very tall task,” the official said.

In an effort to blunt Russian Vladimir Putin’s war propaganda at home, the Biden administration is leveling sanctions against the country’s three biggest television stations, blocking Channel One Russia, Russia-1 and NTV Broadcasting Company from receiving U.S. advertising dollars, broadcast technology, video cameras, microphones and other equipment.

The administration is also extending export controls on wood products, industrial engines, bulldozers, boilers and other equipment in tandem with European controls on chemicals to limit Russia’s access to components needed to restock military capabilities.

Promtekhnologiya, which produces rifles and weapons used in Ukraine’s invasion, seven shipping companies and one marine towing company were also hit with sanctions. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will also halt general licenses for exports of source material, special material, byproduct material and deuterium to Russia.

The U.S. is adding about 2,600 visa restrictions on Russian and Belarusian officials as well as eight executives from Sberbank, Russia’s largest financial institution, and 27 executives from Gazprombank, which plays a key role in facilitating payments for Russian oil and gas exports to Europe, and Moscow Industrial Bank and its 10 subsidiaries.

The official emphasized the sanctions extend only to Gazprombank’s top executives and do not represent a full block on the Russian energy giant. The administration has been cautious about shutting down Gazprombank’s operations while Europe is still importing gas from Russia, the official added.

The announcement comes two days after Biden unveiled an additional $150-million weapons package including 25,000 155-millimeter artillery rounds, counter-artillery radars and electronic jamming equipment. The president has urged Congress to approve $33 billion in aid for Ukraine amid Russia’s ongoing assault, as the remaining $250 million in the presidential drawdown authority dwindles.

The funding request, more than double the $13.6 billion that lawmakers approved last month, signals a significant ramp-up of the administration’s long-term commitment to supporting Ukraine.

The G-7 leaders said they remained united in their resolve to deny Putin a victory in Ukraine. “We owe it to the memory of all those who fought for freedom in the Second World War, to continue fighting for it today, for the people of Ukraine, Europe and the global community,” the G-7 statement read.