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World leaders fine-tune punitive measures against Russia

TOKYO (AP) – USD20 million in United Nations (UN) humanitarian funds, and a planned infusion of USD1.68 billion in European Union (EU) economic aid for Ukraine. A raft of new, stronger sanctions against Russia from Japan, Europe, Australia and others. And a cascade of condemnation from the highest levels.

As Russian bombs and troops pounded Ukraine during the invasion’s first full day, world leaders yesterday began to fine-tune a response meant to punish the Russian economy and its leaders, including President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

While there’s an acute awareness that a military intervention is unlikely, for now, the strength, unity and speed of the financial sanctions – with the striking exception of China, a strong Russian supporter – signal a growing global determination to make Moscow reconsider its attack.

French Finance minister Bruno Le Maire said yesterday that France and its European allies are determined to inflict great damage on Russian economy and punish Russia for the “foolish decisions of Vladimir Putin” with “massive and immediate sanctions”.

“We want to isolate Russia financially,” Le Maire said. “We want to cut all ties between Russia and the global financial system. We will dry up the financing of the Russian economy.”

People protest the Russian invasion of Ukraine at a demonstration in the Studio City neighbourhood of Los Angeles. PHOTO: AP

France and its allies have decided to further sanction individuals, as well as impose penalties targetting finance, energy and other sectors, French President Emmanuel Macron said yesterday. The legal texts for the sanctions will be finalised and submitted for approval to EU foreign ministers.

Macron also said that the EU has decided on economic aid for Ukraine in the “unprecedented” amount of EUR1.5 billion (USD1.68 billion).

Russia’s civil aviation authority has banned United Kingdom (UK) flights to and over Russia in retaliation to the British ban on Aeroflot flights. Rosaviatsiya said that all flights by UK carriers to Russia as well as transit flights are banned starting yesterday. It said the measure was taken in response to the “unfriendly decisions” by the British authorities who banned flights to the UK by the Russian flag carrier Aeroflot as part of sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Countries in Asia and the Pacific have joined the United States, the 27-nation EU and others in the West in piling on punitive measures against Russian banks and leading companies. The nations have also set up export controls aimed at starving Russia’s industries and military of semiconductors and other high-tech products.

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