U.S. imposes new sanctions vs. Russia

WASHINGTON — The United States on Wednesday, May 1, 2024, imposed new sanctions on hundreds of companies and people tied to Russia’s weapons development program, more than a dozen Chinese entities accused of helping Moscow find workarounds to earlier penalties, and individuals linked to the death of Kremlin opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The actions by the departments of Treasury and State target Russia’s military-industrial base, chemical weapons programs and people and companies in third countries that help Russia acquire weapons components as its invasion of Ukraine has entered its third year.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the action “will further disrupt and degrade Russia’s war efforts by going after its military-industrial base and the evasion networks that help supply it.”

Final approval

The Senate, meanwhile, gave final approval to legislation barring imports of Russian uranium, boosting U.S. efforts to disrupt Russia’s war in Ukraine. Democratic President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill into law.

About 12 percent of the uranium used to produce electricity at U.S. nuclear power plants is imported from Russia, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

A spokesperson for the National Security Council said Wednesday that Biden shares lawmakers’ concerns about U.S. reliance on Russia for low-enriched uranium to support its domestic nuclear fleet.

Included in the administration’s announcement are importers of cotton cellulose and nitrocellulose, which are used to produce gunpowder, rocket propellants and other explosives.

The penalties also target Russian government entities and people tied to Russia’s chemical and biological weapons programs, companies related to Russia’s natural gas construction projects and three workers at the penal colony where Navalny died.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has railed against earlier rounds of U.S. and Western penalties, claiming they are “illegitimate sanctions” on his country.

A group of 16 targets in China and Hong Kong, most of which are related to Russian procurement workarounds, are named by the Biden administration.

Warning to China

Yellen traveled to Guangzhou and Beijing last month to warn Chinese officials that they “must not provide material support for Russia’s war and that they will face significant consequences if they do.”

China has said it is not providing Russia with arms or military assistance, although Beijing has maintained robust economic connections with Moscow, alongside India and other countries, as the West imposes sanctions.

Companies in China, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Slovakia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates were accused of helping Russia acquire technology and equipment from abroad. The penalties aim to block them from using the U.S. financial system and bar American citizens from dealing with them.

Biden last week said he would immediately rush badly needed weaponry to Ukraine as he signed into law a $95 billion war aid measure that also included assistance for Israel, Taiwan and other global hot spots.

The upcoming uranium ban is also expected to impact Russian revenues by at least $1 billion. The U.S. banned Russian oil imports after Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2022 but did not against uranium, despite frequent calls to do so by U.S. lawmakers in both parties. / AP

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