Updated May 8, 2022 - World

Western allies unveil new Russia sanctions on V-E Day


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The U.S., G7 and European Union agreed to impose sweeping new sanctions on Russia ahead of its symbolic Victory Day holiday on May 9, including additional export controls and a commitment to phase out Russian oil.

Why it matters: Western officials fear President Vladimir Putin will use Monday's celebration of the Soviet Union's defeat of Nazi Germany to dramatically escalate his war against Ukraine.

Driving the news: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky joined a G7 leaders' call on Sunday to discuss the sanctions and commemorate the sacrifices the Allies made to "defeat fascism" during World War II, a senior U.S. official told reporters.

  • The leaders met virtually "to say, together, Putin is dishonoring those sacrifices by spreading his lies and disinformation about the barbarism he is committing in Ukraine," the official said.
  • U.S. diplomats returned to Kyiv on Sunday to commemorate Victory in Europe Day with their Ukrainian counterparts. First lady Jill Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made surprise trips to Ukraine.

What they're saying: "We remain united in our resolve that President Putin must not win his war against Ukraine," the G7 leaders said in a lengthy joint statement commemorating V-E Day and detailing the new sanctions.

  • "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."

Details: The U.S. announced it would join the U.K. in banning its citizens from providing "accounting, trust and corporate formation, and management consulting services to any person in the Russian Federation."

  • The new American and British services restrictions will "work in tandem" with additional G7 export controls on "wood products, industrial engines, boilers, motors, fans, and ventilation equipment, bulldozers, and many other items with industrial and commercial applications," the White House said.
  • The U.S. and U.K. decided not to ban the provision of legal services to Russians "for now," but will continue to assess whether to expand the sanctions based on Russia's behavior, the official said.

In addition, the U.S. is sanctioning three of Russia's "most highly-viewed directly or indirectly state-controlled" television stations — Channel One, Russia-1 and NTV.

  • The sanctions will bar American advertisers from "funding Russian propaganda" and force the networks to domestically source video cameras, microphones, software servers and other broadcast technologies.
  • The U.S. will also impose 2,600 additional visa restrictions on Russian and Belarusian officials, including eight executives from Sberbank and 27 executives from Gazprombank.

Between the lines: "We picked goods, we picked services, we picked technologies that we and the Europeans and the G7 and our partners in Asia were the dominant suppliers of," the official said.

  • The services bans are especially "powerful" because U.S. consulting and accounting firms have been asked by Russian companies "to help them figure out how to reformulate their business strategies" and "hide their wealth" to blunt sanctions, the official added.
  • "We're shutting that down."

The official added that "these sanctions are not an end in themselves; they're intended to change the strategic calculus of the target."

  • "Putin, like any autocrat, has a social contract. He's taken away the freedom of the people of Russia in exchange for stability. And he's no longer delivering upon that."
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