The United States and its allies’ newest round of sanctions against Russian President Putin will force him to focus on holding together the Russian economy, taking his focus away from the war, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo, one of the main U.S. coordinators on the Russian sanctions strategy, said Tuesday.
The sanctions will target Russian supply chains that contribute to fueling the war, including “everything from looking at ways to go after the military devices that have been built to use not only in Ukraine but to project power elsewhere,” Adeyemo told the Associated Press.
The U.S. and European Union have levied rounds of punishing sanctions against Russia, from targeting Putin’s adult daughters to agriculture and oil.
The White House said Russia’s GDP could contract up to 15% this year, with inflation already spiking above 15%. But Russia has been able to stabilize key parts of its economy by artificially propping up the ruble, allowing it to rebound quickly as the U.S. and its allies continue to pile on sanctions.
Putin has publicly shrugged off the sanctions, saying Russia was prepared for them and suggesting they will only serve to crash the economies of the nations that put the sanctions in place.
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►Russia has forcibly deported more than 500,000 Ukrainians to the Russian Federation, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyi said.
►Putin vowed that Russia’s bloody offensive in Ukraine would continue until its goals are fulfilled and insisted the campaign was going as planned, despite a major withdrawal in the face of stiff Ukrainian opposition and significant losses.
►More than 720 people have been killed in Bucha and other Kyiv suburbs that were occupied by Russian troops and more than 200 are considered missing, the Interior Ministry said early Wednesday.
►The Biden administration is preparing yet another, more diverse, package of military support possibly totaling $750 million to be announced in the coming days, a senior U.S. defense official said.
The presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were in Ukraine on Wednesday for talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – like Ukraine – were part of the Soviet Union for half a century.
Now the Baltic countries fear they could be the next targets of Russia’s belligerence, and together they total only about 6 million people compared to Ukraine’s 44 million. The Baltics have one advantage Ukraine did not – they are NATO members. NATO leaders have made it clear the alliance would defend all its members from Russian aggression.
Estonian President Alar Karis posted photos on social media of the leaders boarding a train: “On our way to Kyiv, to a city that has suffered terribly due to Russian war since my last visit. … We visit #Ukraine to show strong support to people, will meet dear friend President @ZelenskyyUa #SlavaUkraini.” (Slava Ukraini translates to “glory to Ukraine.”)
Former President Barack Obama weighed in on the Russian invasion of Ukraine in an interview with NBC News’ “TODAY,” answering questions about his handling of Russian relations while in office and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state of mind.
Obama said the war in Ukraine and the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 are a reminder “to not take our own democracy for granted,” adding that the Biden administration is “doing what it needs to be doing.”
“Putin has always been ruthless against his own people, as well as others,” Obama said. “What we have seen with the invasion of Ukraine is him being reckless in a way that you might not have anticipated eight, 10 years ago, but you know, the danger was always there.”
Contributing: The Associated Press