The European Union agreed Saturday to impose new sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. The EU said in a statement the new sanctions “are directed at military and political decision-makers, companies supporting or working within the Russian military industry, and commanders in the Wagner Group.”
The EU sanctions also prohibit transactions with three more Russian banks and hit Iran, restricting exports by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of drones used in attacks against civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.
The new measures announced Saturday were adopted after much internal disagreement over their exact makeup and made public one day after the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — the intended target date.
In its intelligence update Saturday, the British Defense Ministry said Russia has likely depleted its supply of Iranian one-way-attack uncrewed aerial vehicles or OWA-UAVs.
The ministry said there have not been any reports of the vehicles being used in Ukraine “since around” February 15, while at least 24 were reported downed between late January and early February.
“Scores were destroyed in the first few days of the year,” the ministry said.
Ukrainian and Western officials also have said that Western sanctions are hampering Russia’s ability to replenish its stocks of guided weapons that rely on imported microchips.
Russian official responds
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, responding to that report, said Moscow has increased military production “by tens of times” at some factories and was closely studying weapons fired into Russian-held areas from the Ukrainian side in an effort to gain an advantage.
“We are not just expanding production, but also introducing the latest technologies, perfecting them literally ‘on the march,'” he said in an article published Saturday in the National Defense magazine.
“It was funny to hear the Kyiv fantasists reasoning that ‘missiles ran out’ in Russia or ‘production stopped.’”
In a video speech Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that Russia must be prevented “from turning Ukraine, our neighbors, and the whole of Europe, which Russian revanchism wants to reach, into concrete crumbs.”
The Ukrainian leader also pushed for more sanctions pressure on Russia after Britain, the U.S. and the European Union all announced new measures aimed at further choking off funding and support for Moscow.
Financial leaders condemn Moscow
During the G-20 summit in Bangaluru, India, on Saturday, finance chiefs of the world’s largest economies condemned Moscow for its war on Ukraine, with only China and Russia declining to sign a joint statement.
With no consensus, India, which holds the G-20 presidency this year, said in what is called a “chair’s summary” that “most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed that it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy.”
Stating that it is essential to uphold international law, the summary said that “the use of or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible. The peaceful resolution of conflicts, efforts to address crises, as well as diplomacy and dialogue are vital. Today’s era must not be of war.”
The declaration noted that references to the war were “agreed to by all member countries except Russia and China.”
U.S. commits $2 billion more to Ukraine
On Friday, a year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the White House announced that the Pentagon would commit $2 billion more in military assistance to Ukraine’s defense against Russia. The package includes additional ammunition for HIMARS, or High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, 155 mm artillery rounds, munitions for laser-guided rocket systems, and funding for training, maintenance, and sustainment of equipment. President Joe Biden reasserted his vow that “Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia.”
Zelenskyy has been pressing the U.S. and allies for fighter jets, but White House officials have said they are not the weaponry that Ukrainians need in the near term.
“There is no basis on which there is a rationale, according to our military now, to provide F-16s,” President Joe Biden said. “I am ruling it out for now,” he said during an ABC News interview Friday.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to support Ukraine’s infrastructure. Blinken said the State Department in coordination with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Treasury Department are offering $10 billion in assistance, including budgetary support to Ukraine and additional energy assistance to support Ukrainians suffering from Russia’s attacks.
The Treasury Department said it is sanctioning Russia’s metals and mining sector among others. The action, taken in coordination with the G-7 leading industrial nations, seeks to punish 250 people and firms, puts financial blocks on banks, arms dealers and technology companies tied to weapons production, and goes after alleged sanctions evaders in countries from the United Arab Emirates to Switzerland.
“Our sanctions have had both short-term and long-term impact, seen acutely in Russia’s struggle to replenish its weapons and in its isolated economy,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said.
VOA’s Anjana Pasricha contributed to this story from New Delhi. The Associated Press and Reuters provided some information for this report.