Ukraine officials urged world leaders to issue additional sanctions against Russia on Wednesday while the presidents of Poland and Lithuania met today in Kyiv, giving their support to Ukraine in its EU bid.
Saying other countries should “Hit Hard, Hit Now,” they said countries must continue to levy sanctions against Russia after its Monday invasion of the easternmost two regions of the country.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda attended a meeting together in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday, discussing the ramifications of the invasion and the chances of the country joining the EU.
Ukraine garners support for EU bid in midst of Russian aggression
In a joint declaration with the Ukrainian president, the two leaders threw their support behind the embattled country, saying that Ukraine deserves European Union candidate status, and Poland and Lithuania will support it in reaching that goal.
“We emphasize that, given the significant progress in the implementation of the Association Agreement and internal reforms, as well as the current security challenges, Ukraine deserves EU candidate status and Lithuania and Poland will support Ukraine in achieving this goal,” the declaration stated, which was signed in Kyiv by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda.
The statement calls on the members of the international community for the “swift introduction” of “robust” sanctions on Russia, including strictures involving the proposed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, which German Chancellor Scholz stated on Tuesday would not be allowed to begin operation.
🇺🇦@EUCouncil ухвалив пакет санкцій у відповідь на визнання #Росією непідконтрольних уряду територій Донецької та Луганської областей України та введення військ до регіону.
Докладніше: https://t.co/gWh60oCQeP pic.twitter.com/PlFoQUKrCk
— EU in Ukraine (@EUDelegationUA) February 23, 2022
Although Ukrainian officials welcomed the great number of sanctions levied against Russia for its aggression in eastern Ukraine, they called for yet more actions, which they state must be started as soon as possible, adding that they are needed to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin “from further aggression.”
“First decisive steps were taken yesterday, and we are grateful for them,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted today, adding “Now the pressure needs to step up to stop Putin. Hit his economy and cronies. Hit more. Hit hard. Hit now.”
On Tuesday, the United States, European Union, Canada, Britain and Germany instituted some of their planned sanctions that had been in the pipeline in case Russia did invade the eastern Ukraine. However, they stated that they were only incremental sanctions, while more awaited Russia should it take further aggressive actions in Ukraine.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Wednesday “We have not yet seen a full-scale invasion, but we are very clear that if President Putin escalates, we, the international community, will escalate our sanctions.”
To stop Putin from further aggression, we call on partners to impose more sanctions on Russia now. First decisive steps were taken yesterday, and we are grateful for them. Now the pressure needs to step up to stop Putin. Hit his economy and cronies. Hit more. Hit hard. Hit now.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) February 23, 2022
Ukrainian military officials told the press on Wednesday that shelling by pro-Russian separatists in the Luhansk region, part of the larger Donbass region, had killed one Ukrainian soldier and injured six others, the Voice of America reports.
“Ukrainians are a peaceful nation, we want silence, but if we keep silent today, we will disappear tomorrow,” Zelenskyy stated in a video address late on Tuesday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who ordered 150,000 of his troops to take positions along the border with Ukraine, and whose invasion of the Donbass area triggered almost universal condemnation, said on Wednesday he is always open to finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
However, he added, “the interests of Russia and the security of our citizens are non-negotiable for us.” Russia has issued almost 300,000 Russian passports to Ukrainian citizens living in the two oblasts that make up the Donbass area, effectively granting them the rights of Russian citizens and providing a pretext for invasion.
Yesterday, Russian lawmakers rubber stamped a motion to allow Putin to use military force outside the country, which experts believe could very well mean a more wide scale attack on Ukraine is imminent.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also told reporters that Russian tanks had already moved into parts of Donetsk and Luhansk, the two areas making up the separatist Donbass region.
“Every indication is that Russia continues to plan for a full-scale invasion on Ukraine,” Stoltenberg stated.
Biden cuts off financing for Russian banks
Also on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden effectively cut off the Russian government from international financing by imposing strict sanctions on two major banks, declaring that its actions in Ukraine were “a flagrant violation of international law.”
The sanctions target three men in Putin’s inner circle in particular: Aleksandr Bortnikov, the head of the Federal Security Service; Sergei Kiriyenko, another top Russian official, and Peter Fradkov, the chairman of Promsvyazbank.
A senior White House official told reporters that the measures target two banks especially close to the Russian leader, including one Vnesheconombank, or VEB, which that has over $50 billion in assets.
Daleep Singh, the US’ deputy national security adviser for international economics, described the VEB as “a glorified piggy bank for the Kremlin.”
The measures can easily be added to if Russia’s aggressive moves continue, he added, saying “no Russian financial institution is safe” from the range of possible sanctions, including the two largest in the country, which have almost $750 billion in assets.
“Make no mistake — this is only the sharp edge of the pain we can inflict,” he said.
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