US imposes sanctions on Belarus for supporting Russia
The US Commerce Department has banned the export of key technologies to Belarus over its support for Russia’s military action in Ukraine.
The department has also restricted the export of oil and gas extraction equipment to Russia, which it claims would depreciate Russia’s refining capacity over time without reducing the global supply of energy. “Today, the United States, in coordination with Allies and partners, is imposing additional economic costs on Russia and Belarus in response to President Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine,” the White House said in a fact sheet on Wednesday.
“The United States will take actions to hold Belarus accountable for enabling Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, weaken the Russian defense sector and its military power for years to come, target Russia’s most important sources of wealth, and ban Russian airlines from US airspace,” it added.
Washington has so far refused to impose heavy sanctions on Russia’s energy sector due to the European countries’ need for Russia’s oil and gas resources.
However, in an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki reiterated that the US is ready to sanction Russia's oil and gas industry, adding that it is considering the fallout of the move on global markets and US energy prices.
"We’re considering it. It’s very much on the table, but we need to weigh what all of the impacts will be," Psaki asserted.
Meanwhile, some reports suggest that the US is preparing a sanctions package against the Russian oligarchs as well as their companies in a bid to mount up pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
To that purpose, the US administration launched a new task force on Wednesday to enforce sweeping sanctions imposed on the Russian officials over the simmering crisis in Ukraine.
Known as "KleptoCapture", the task force aims to squeeze the finances of Russian officials as part of efforts to force Russia to end its week-long military intervention in the former Soviet republic.
The task force, comprising interagency law enforcement officers from the FBI, Marshals Service, IRS, Postal Inspection, Homeland Security Investigations, and Secret Service, will aim at “Russian officials, government-aligned elites, and those who aid or conceal their unlawful conduct”, according to US Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Tensions have heightened between Washington and Moscow over the latter’s military operation in Ukraine, which entered its 7th day on Wednesday.
The operation has prompted the US and its NATO allies to impose harsh sanctions on Kremlin, not even sparing President Vladimir Putin and his senior ministers and aides.