Ukraine’s defense minister calls for personal sanctions against Putin’s cronies

20 January 2022, 08:49 PM

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov has urged his country’s allies to impose personal sanctions against Russian oligarchs in order to deter the Kremlin from further escalating its nearly eight-year-long war against Ukraine.

“I’m sure that the United States, the United Kingdom and (our) European partners can do more for our security,” Reznikov said in an interview with the BBC on Jan. 19.

“For example, economic sanctions could be imposed (on Russia) before an invasion, as opposed to after one.”

Currently, over 100,000 Russian troops have been deployed near the Russian-Ukrainian border, sparking fears of a further Russian invasion into Ukraine.

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According to the minister, preventative Western sanctions could conceivably put a stop to further Russian aggression.

“The West could use the vast wealth of Russian oligarchs who are closest to Putin as leverage; Europe and the United States could indicate just how easily they could freeze the assets (of Putin’s cronies),” said the minister.

Reznikov said that Moscow’s appetite for invasion would only grow if NATO accedes to the Kremlin’s ultimatums and “security guarantees.”

“Next (they will desire) the Baltics, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, up to, potentially, the Berlin Wall,” he said.

While the “civilized world is still playing chess, the Russians are playing poker,” and Moscow will keep raising the stakes, warned Reznikov.

The Russian troop buildup on the Ukrainian border was first widely reported in early December 2021, with several media outlets speculating that Russia might invade Ukraine with a force of 175,000 troops in early 2022.

On Jan. 14, the White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated that the United States has evidence of Russia planning to conduct various false flag operations in Donbas.

Corroborated by the Pentagon, Psaki said that Moscow sent operatives, trained in explosives and urban combat, into eastern Ukraine, to be used to stage false flag operations that could give Putin a pretext to once again invade Ukraine.

The situation on Ukraine's eastern border is a matter of deep concern for both U.S. and EU officials. According to U.S. President Joe Biden, the White House is looking at a range of options to dissuade Russia from a potential attack on Ukraine.

A series of negotiations between Russia and the United States and NATO were held last week to defuse the tensions caused by the Kremlin military buildup, but the United States and NATO rebuffed Russian demands to restrict NATO enlargement, roll back post-1997 NATO infrastructure, and that it be given written guarantees that NATO would never expand into Ukraine and Georgia.

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