US announces new Ukraine aid, Russia sanctions on war anniversary

Pentagon to send more HIMARS ammunition and drones to Ukraine as Washington targets Russian firms and sanction evasion.

Ukraine protest
People take part in a Ukrainian Flag raising ceremony to commemorate one year since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in New York City, February 24 [Irynka Hromotska/Reuters]

Washington, DC – The United States has announced a new, $2bn military aid package to Ukraine and issued a new sanctions targeting Russia’s metals and mining sector and financial institutions, as well as international firms with alleged ties to Moscow’s push to evade previous sanctions.

The two separate US moves on Friday coincided with the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and underscored the US strategy of backing Kyiv in the war.

“The United States stands strongly with Ukraine as it defends itself, and we will continue to do so until Ukraine’s sovereignty is respected and the people of Ukraine can shape their chosen, democratic future in freedom and peace,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Friday.

The new aid package includes ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), artillery rounds, drones, secure communication equipment and funding for “training, maintenance, and sustainment”, the Pentagon said.

“The United States will continue to work with its Allies and partners to provide Ukraine with capabilities to meet its immediate battlefield needs and longer-term security assistance requirements for as long as it takes,” it added in a statement.

Russian officials have said that sending arms to Ukraine prolongs and intensifies the conflict.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the Department of the Treasury sanctioned dozens of Russian entities and targeted more than 30 companies and individuals across the world it accused of links “to Russia’s sanctions evasion efforts, including those related to arms trafficking and illicit finance”.

The measures blocked the companies’ assets in the US and prohibited Americans from doing business with them.

Washington and its allies have imposed hundreds of sanctions on Russian banks, tech companies and wealthy elites connected to President Vladimir Putin.

But Moscow has signalled that it would be undeterred by the financial measures, pledging to “cope with any challenge”.

“The United States will continue to impose costs on Russia for as long as this war continues,” the US Treasury said on Friday.

Treasury secretary Janet Yellen told MSNBC that the sanctions are having a “significant impact” on Russia’s economy and defence industry.

“We’re depriving them of the revenues that they need to wage war,” Yellen said, noting that Moscow is now selling its oil at a “very substantial discount” due to price caps.

The Department of State also targeted dozens of Russian officials, including governors and government ministers, and entities with its own sanctions on Friday, promising to continue taking action against Moscow until it ends its “brutal war” in Ukraine.

Speaking at the United Nations Security Council later on Friday, Blinken said any peace in Ukraine must not legitimise “Russia’s seizure of land by force”.

“Nations around the world continue to stand with Ukraine because we all recognise that if we abandon Ukraine, we abandon the UN Charter itself and the principles and rules that make all countries safer and more secure,” Blinken said.

Russia launched its all-out invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 – one year ago – after a months-long standoff that saw Moscow amass troops near the Ukrainian borders as Putin demanded an end to NATO expansion into former Soviet republics.

Moscow’s war campaign has been mired by military setbacks, as Western powers stepped up financial and military support to Kyiv.

Source: Al Jazeera