US Senate unveils bill on sanctions against Russia if it invades Ukraine

13 January 2022, 03:17 PM

U.S. Senate Democrats have unveiled a bill to impose sweeping sanctions on top Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, if Moscow escalates hostilities against Ukraine, the Reuters news agency reported on Jan. 12.

The officials, other than Putin himself, specified in the document are the following: Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, as well as commanders of various army units and other persons whom U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration considers to be involved in the aggression against Ukraine.

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The proposed legislation also includes provisions to help bolster Ukraine’s security and encourages the United States to “consider all available and appropriate measures” to ensure the Russia-to-Germany Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline – a “tool of malign influence of the Russian Federation" does not become operational.

“This legislation makes it absolutely clear that the U.S. Senate will not stand idly by as the Kremlin threatens a re-invasion of Ukraine,” Senator Robert Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who unveiled the bill, said in a statement.

The bill would also target companies in Russia that offer secure messaging systems, such as SWIFT, which banks use to exchange key information with other financial institutions.

The Bloomberg news agency on Dec. 16 reported that the Biden administration is pushing European Union allies to finalize a broad package of sanctions against Russian banks and energy companies that could be imposed jointly with the United States if the Kremlin attacked Ukraine.

In a Dec. 21 report, Reuters said that U.S. officials are considering tough export control measures to disrupt Russia's economy. In particular, the measures being discussed could halt Russia’s ability to import smartphones, key aircraft and automobile components, and materials from many other sectors.

In a 50-minute call on Dec. 30 to address Russian military actions, Biden told Putin that he “made it clear that he (Putin) cannot move on Ukraine.”

Putin in turn threatened to completely sever relations with the United States if new sanctions are introduced.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that sanctions against Russia should be imposed before a possible invasion, not after.

Currently, over 100,000 Russian troops are estimated to be deployed on the Russian-Ukrainian border and in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories, reports Ukrainian intelligence.

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