World leaders refine sanctions meant to punish Russia

TOKYO (AP) — Twenty million dollars in UN humanitarian funds for Ukraine. A series of tougher new sanctions against Russia from Japan, Australia, Taiwan and others. And a cascade of convictions at the highest level.

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

Although there is a keen awareness that military intervention is not possible, for now the strength, unity and speed of financial sanctions – with the striking exception of China, a staunch supporter of Russia – signal a growing global determination to get Moscow to reconsider its attack.

“Japan must make its position clear that we will never tolerate any attempt to change the status quo by force,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters on Friday while announcing further punitive measures, including visa freezes and assets of Russian groups, banks and individuals, and the suspension of shipments of semiconductors and other restricted goods to Russian organizations linked to the military.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is an extremely serious development that affects the international order, not only for Europe but also for Asia,” Kishida said.

Countries in Asia and the Pacific joined the United States, the 27-nation European Union and others in the West to pile up punitive measures against Russian banks and big business. Nations have also implemented export controls aimed at starving Russian industries and the military of semiconductors and other high-tech products.

These measures follow the large-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Putin’s forces carried out airstrikes on cities and military bases, and his troops and tanks entered the country from three sides. The Ukrainian government called for help as civilians fled. Dozens of Ukrainians, civilians and soldiers, were killed.

“An unthinkable number of innocent lives could be lost because of Russia’s decision,” said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. She announced targeted travel bans on Russian officials and other measures.

United Nations officials set aside $20 million to bolster UN humanitarian operations in Ukraine. In addition, the UN Security Council is expected to vote on Friday on a resolution condemning Russia and demanding the immediate withdrawal of all its forces. Moscow, however, is certain to veto it.

UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said the $20 million from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund will support emergency operations along the line of contact in eastern Donetsk and Luhansk and other parts of the country, and “will help with health care, housing, food and water and sanitation for the most vulnerable people affected by the conflict.

The West and its allies have shown no intention of sending troops to Ukraine – a non-NATO member – and risking a wider war on the continent. But NATO has reinforced its member states in Eastern Europe as a precaution against an attack on them as well.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency, meanwhile, has extended airspace it considers risky to 200 nautical miles, and warned of “the threat of missile launches to and from the ‘Ukraine”.

Demonstrations of Ukrainians and their supporters took place Friday in Taiwan, Mongolia, Australia and elsewhere. Public buildings, sports stadiums and landmarks in the Australian city of Melbourne were lit up in Ukraine’s national colors of blue and yellow.

Japan’s new sanctions follow a series of earlier measures that include suspending the distribution and issuance of new Russian government bonds in Japan – a measure aimed at reducing funding for the Russian military – a ban trade with two Ukrainian separatist regions and the freezing of their assets and visas.

Japan, which has long sought to regain control of the Russian-held northern islands seized at the end of World War II, took a softer stance toward Moscow during Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Tokyo’s response to the current invasion was seen as tougher and quicker, which may be linked to deep concern in Tokyo over China’s increasingly assertive military actions in the region.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said his country would join international sanctions, but would not consider unilateral sanctions.

South Korea’s relative caution is likely due to the fact that its economy is heavily dependent on international trade. He also fears that strained ties with Moscow could undermine efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis. Russia is South Korea’s 10th largest trading partner, and Moscow is a member of the UN Security Council with veto power and enjoys friendly relations with North Korea.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi telephoned Putin on Thursday evening and called for an “immediate end to the violence”, his office said in a statement.

India’s permanent representative to the UN pushed for “urgent de-escalation” through “sustained and focused diplomacy”, but refrained from condemning Russia or recognizing Ukraine’s sovereignty.

The cautious statement reflects India’s delicate position. It depends heavily on historical partner Russia for military equipment but has sought to strengthen its ties with the West over the years.

Taiwan announced on Friday that it would join the economic sanctions against Russia, without however specifying what type of measures it would be. The sanctions could potentially focus on controlling exports of semiconductor chips, local media reported. Taiwan is the main manufacturer of these chips, an essential component used in technology ranging from cars to laptops to cell phones.

While most Asian nations rallied in support of Ukraine, China continued to denounce sanctions against Russia and accused the United States and its allies of provoking Moscow. Beijing, worried about American power in Asia, has increasingly aligned its foreign policy with that of Russia to challenge the West.

“At a time when Australia, the UK, the US, Europe and Japan are moving to cut off Russia, the Chinese government is continuing its easing of trade restrictions with Russia and that is simply unacceptable. “said the Australian. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday.

“You’re not going to throw a lifeline to Russia in the middle of a period when they’re invading another country,” he added, referring to a South China Morning Post report that China had announced that it was fully open to Russia. wheat imports.

In Tokyo, Ukraine’s top diplomat for Japan urged China to join international efforts to stop the Russian invasion.

“We would be very happy if China exercised its ties with Russia and spoke to Putin and explained to him that it is inappropriate in the 21st century to carry out this massacre in Europe,” Ambassador Sergiy Korsunsky told reporters.

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