WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and Western allies plan to pile additional sanctions on Russia on Wednesday after the emergence of troubling new evidence of war crimes in Ukraine, according to the White House. The new penalties will include a ban on all new investment in Russia.
Among the other measures being taken against Russia are greater sanctions on its financial institutions and state-owned enterprises, and sanctions on government officials and their family members, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
“The goal is to force them to make a choice,” she said. “The biggest part of our objective here is to deplete the resources that Putin has to continue his war against Ukraine.”
Separately, the Treasury Department moved Tuesday to block any Russian government debt payments with U.S. dollars from accounts at U.S. financial institutions, making it harder for Russia to meet its financial obligations.
The Biden administration also announced Tuesday night that it was sending an additional $100 million worth of military assistance to Ukraine. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the new equipment will meet “an urgent Ukrainian need for additional Javelin anti-armor systems.”
President Joe Biden and U.S. allies have worked together to levy a crippling of economic penalties against Russia for invading Ukraine more than a month ago, including the freezing of central bank assets, export controls and the seizing of property, including yachts, that belong to Russia’s wealthy elite. But calls for increased sanctions intensified this week in response to the attacks, killings and destruction in the Ukrainian city of Bucha.
The sanctions are intended to further Russia’s economic, financial and technological “isolation” from the rest of the world as a penalty for its attacks on civilians in Ukraine, Psaki said. That isolation is a key aspect of the U.S. strategy, which is premised on the idea that Russia will ultimately lack the resources and equipment to keep fighting a prolonged war in Ukraine.
Psaki said the administration is assessing “additional consequences and steps we can put in place” but underscored that Biden is not weighing any military action.
An increasingly desperate Russia has engaged in military tactics that have outraged much of the wider global community, leading to charges that it is committing war crimes and causing other sanctions.
Still, almost all of the EU has refrained from an outright ban on Russian oil and natural gas that would likely crush the Russian economy. The U.S. has banned fossil fuels from Russia, while Lithuania blocked natural gas from that country on Saturday, becoming the first of the 27-member EU to do so. The EU executive branch on Tuesday proposed a ban on Russian coal, while Germany's government intends to end its use of Russian natural gas over the next two years.
On Monday, Biden called for his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to be tried for war crimes and face new sanctions because of the atrocities and abuses seen around Kyiv after Russian forces pulled back from the Ukrainian capital. The corpses of what appeared to be civilians were seen strewn in yards, many of them likely killed at close range.
Biden said the U.S. and its allies would gather details for a war crimes trial, stressing that Putin has been "brutal" and his actions "outrageous."
Associated Press journalists saw dozens of bodies in Bucha on the outskirts of Kyiv. There were at least 13 bodies in and around a building that local people said Russian troops used as a base. Three other bodies were found in a stairwell, and a group of six were burned together.
Many victims seen by the AP appeared to have been shot at close range. Some were shot in the head. At least two had their hands tied. A bag of spilled groceries lay near one victim.