Sunday

19th Sep 2021

US joins EU sanctions on Russia in show of unity

  • Previous White House incumbent Donald Trump was soft on Russia (Photo: Tracy Russo)

America has sanctioned Russia for the attempted murder and jailing of opposition figure Alexei Navalny, in a show of return to transatlantic unity.

The US named seven senior Russian officials and 14 entities on Tuesday (2 March), over Navalny's recent poisoning with a chemical weapon and subsequent incarceration.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

It also designated a further two individuals and 11 entities over Russia's chemical weapons programme more broadly speaking and banned exports of items that could be used to make prohibited agents.

"We share the EU's concerns regarding Russia's deepening authoritarianism and welcome the EU's determination to impose sanctions on Russia under its new global human rights authorities," secretary of state Anthony Blinken said.

"We join the EU in condemning Alexei Navalny's poisoning as well as his arrest and imprisonment by the Russian government," US treasury secretary Janet Yellen added.

Russia's behaviour had violated "all norms of civilised conduct," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki also said.

The Russian officials to face visa bans and asset freezes are: Russian intelligence chief Alexander Bortnikov; senior Kremlin aides Andrei Yarin and Sergei Kiriyenko; deputy defence ministers Aleksei Krivoruchko and Pavel Popov; prisons chief Alexander Kalashnikov and prosecutor general Igor Krasnov.

It did not name the 14 companies, but said they were "located in Russia, Germany, and Switzerland".

The additional listings, over Russia's chemical weapons programme, included the 'FSB' and 'GRU' intelligence services, several state scientific bodies, and two GRU officers.

"Any foreign person who knowingly facilitates a significant transaction or transactions for or on behalf of one of these persons [also] risks being sanctioned," the US said, in a warning to Russia's facilitators in the West.

The US action comes after the EU already listed the same seven Russian officials over the Navalny case.

The EU designated some of them last October, when Navalny was poisoned, and formally agreed to add the rest also on Tuesday.

The US, one day earlier, also announced $125m (€104m) in military aid to Ukraine, which has been fighting Russian aggression for the past six years.

The aid included two small gunboats, as well as counter-artillery radars, to help Ukraine patrol its territorial waters and to more accurately fire back against Russian cannons.

The moves by the new administration of Joe Biden stand in contrast to former US president Donald Trump.

Trump cozied up to Russian president Vladimir Putin, did nothing on Navalny, and threatened to pull aid to Ukraine if it did not help him cheat in elections by fabricating dirt on Biden's son.

But the US and EU still have important differences on Russia policy.

The US wants Germany to stop building a gas pipeline with Russia, called Nord Stream 2, which, it says, will harm Western allies such as Poland and Ukraine, by enabling the Kremlin to cut off their gas in future.

And US commentators said the inclusion of three Germany-based entities in Tuesday's sanctions list should be seen as a warning to Berlin on getting too close to Moscow.

The German listings were "a pebble-like diplomatic warning shot across German chancellor Angela Merkel's bow", the Washington Examiner newspaper's editor, Hugo Gurdon, said in a column.

For its part, the UK, an important financial centre for Russian business, has also joined the US and EU measures, despite Brexit.

Meanwhile, Russia denies poisoning Navalny, which it blames on a Western false-flag operation.

"This [Western sanctions] gives no credit to anyone who makes such decisions. And we will definitely respond," Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told press in Moscow on Tuesday.

The US did not sanction Putin himself "to be able to maintain a relationship moving forward," the White House's Psaki noted.

"They [Biden's administration] did as much as they could quickly," Dan Fried, a former US diplomat, who is now with the Atlantic Council think-tank in Washington, told the Reuters news agency.

"I give them high marks," he said.

US deaf to Germany on Russia pipeline

Any firm issuing safety certificates for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline will find itself in US sanctions crosshairs, the state department has warned.

Agenda

Turkey on EU leaders' plate This WEEK

Ahead of the EU summit, on Monday foreign affairs ministers are set to approve a new package of sanctions on individuals in several countries, including China and Russia, over human rights abuses.

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed

Latest News

  1. MEPs suspect Gazprom manipulating gas price
  2. Fast fashion vs. climate - how 'repair & resell' is the new model
  3. Right of reply: Erik Bergkvist, S&D MEP and shadow rapporteur
  4. EU Commission blocks anti-fraud funds without explanation
  5. Centre-right MEPs abstain on gender-violence vote
  6. World off track to meet climate targets, despite Covid-19
  7. EU to call out Russian aggression at Kyiv summit
  8. EU urges member states to better protect journalists

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us