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US unleashes wave of sanctions, targets Russian circumvention via Chinese companies

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Taking aim at Moscow’s efforts to evade Western sanctions, including those imposed through China, the United States on Wednesday imposed hundreds of new restrictions on the Russian Federation in relation to the conflict in Ukraine.

According to Reuters, the US Treasury Department, along with the State Department, has imposed sanctions on several entities, including close to 200 targets, with over 80 designations specifically targeting Chinese companies.

This marks one of the biggest actions against Chinese companies in the context of US sanctions against Russia.

These measures come while tensions continue to escalate between Washington and Beijing over their respective stances on Russia’s military operations.

The Treasury Department’s sanctions include20 companies based in China and Hong Kong, a move that follows repeated warnings from Washington regarding China’s alleged support for Russia’s military endeavours, including during recent diplomatic visits by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to China.

China, in response, has vehemently opposed what it terms as “illegal unilateral sanctions” by the US, with a spokesperson from China’s embassy in Washington highlighting the country’s adherence to relevant laws and regulations governing exports of dual-use articles.

However, the alignment between China and Russia on this matter poses a major challenge to the recent improvement in relations between the two economic powerhouses.

The sanctions, a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, aim not only to penalise entities directly involved but also those facilitating Russia’s procurement of crucial technology and equipment from abroad.

Treasury’s actions on Wednesday targeted nearly 60 entities across various countries, including China, Russia, Turkey, and others, which were accused of enabling Russia’s acquisition of essential technology and equipment.

Among the sanctioned entities were a China-based company alleged to have exported components for drone production to Russia, further aggravating concerns over China’s role in strengthening Russia’s military capabilities.

Moreover, the State Department’s sanctions targeted several China-based companies for their purported support to Russia’s defence industrial base, alongside entities from Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, and Malaysia implicated in shipping critical items to Russia.

Highlighting the gravity of the situation, a senior State Department official noted that China’s support in providing critical components to Russia’s defence industry significantly fuels Moscow’s ability to sustain its military operations.

In addition to addressing Russia’s military endeavours, the US has also expanded its sanctions to impede Russia’s energy exports, particularly liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The State Department designated vessel operators involved in transporting equipment for Russia’s Arctic LNG 2 project, further constraining Russia’s capacity to advance its energy interests.

These actions follow earlier sanctions on Arctic LNG 2, which compelled Russia’s largest LNG producer, Novatek, to halt production due to a shortage of tankers.

Furthermore, the sanctions encompassed entities affiliated with Russia’s nuclear and coal industries, as well as Russian air carrier Pobeda, a subsidiary of Aeroflot.

These measures are part of a strategy to pressure Russia economically and diplomatically in response to its actions in Ukraine, with the US Commerce Department previously targeting Russian airlines by adding hundreds of Boeing and Airbus airplanes to an export control list.

The State Department’s actions also extended to individuals linked to the controversial death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The targeted officials oversaw the correctional colony where Navalny was imprisoned before his demise, raising questions about the circumstances surrounding his death and further straining US-Russia relations.

(With inputs from Reuters)

Shashwat Sankranti

Breaking and writing stories for WION’s business desk. A literature nerd, closeted poet and a novelist (in the making). 


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