US will extend Russia sanctions, will accept 100,000 Ukrainian refugees

Russia-Ukraine

Biden said this week that the prospect of Russia’s use of chemical weapons poses a “real threat”.

Refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine cross the border in Medyka, Poland on March 7. Erin Scheff/The New York Times

BRUSSELS (AP) – The United States will expand its sanctions on Russia in response to Ukraine’s invasion, targeting members of the country’s parliament and central bank gold reserves, the White House announced Thursday.

Also, Washington will increase its humanitarian aid by welcoming 100,000 Ukrainian refugees and providing an additional $1 billion in food, medicine, water and other supplies.

The White House announced the initiative as US President Joe Biden and world leaders gathered in Brussels for a trio of summits in response to the Russian aggression, looking for new ways to limit the economic and security fallout from the conflict.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the first meeting of the day, an emergency NATO summit, where he called for “military assistance without limits”. He asked for anti-air and anti-ship weapons, “Is it possible to survive such a war without it?”

“It seems we are in a gray area between the West and Russia, protecting our common values,” Zelensky said during the video address. “This is the scariest thing during a war – the lack of clear answers to requests for help!”

A US official, who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said Western nations were discussing the possibility of providing anti-ship weapons amid concerns that Russia could launch amphibious attacks on the Black Sea coast. will start.

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg began the closed-door summit with a sober warning that the Coalition should step up its defenses and “respond to a new security reality in Europe.”

Addressing the leaders sitting at a large round table, he said, “We gather at an important time for our safety.” “We are united in our condemnation of the Kremlin’s unprovoked aggression and our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

Stoltenberg said the coalition is “determined to continue to impose costs on Russia to end this brutal war.”

In addition to NATO summits, Brussels is also hosting individual summits of the Group of Seven Industrialized Countries and the European Union. Biden is attending all three meetings and will hold a press conference later.

While the West remains largely united in confronting Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, there is widespread acceptance that unity will be tested as the war chip costs the global economy.

The consolidation of forces along NATO’s eastern flank, almost certainly for at least the next five to 10 years if Russia is to be effectively deterred, will also put pressure on the national budget.

“We need to do more, and therefore we need to invest more. There is a new sense of urgency and I hope leaders will agree to accelerate investment in defense,” Stoltenberg said ahead of the summit said.

Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said the US wanted to hear that “the resolve and unity we’ve seen over the past month will last as long as it takes time.”

The energy crisis exacerbated by the war will be a particularly hot topic at the European Council summit, where the leaders of Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece are hoping for an immediate, coordinated bloc-wide response. EU officials have said they will seek US help on plans to expand natural gas storage facilities for next winter, and they also want the bloc to jointly buy gas.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has dismissed calls to boycott Russian energy supplies, saying it would hurt his country’s economy significantly. Scholz is facing pressure from environmental activists to quickly wean Germany off Russian energy, but he said the process would have to be done gradually.

“To do so from one day to the next would mean plunging our country and the whole of Europe into recession,” Scholz said on Wednesday.

Poland and other eastern NATO countries will also seek clarity on how the United States and fellow European nations can help deal with their growing concerns about Russian aggression as well as a growing refugee crisis. More than 3.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine in recent weeks, with more than 2 million fleeing to Poland.

Biden is scheduled to visit Poland on Friday, where both issues are expected to be at the center of talks with President Andrzej Duda. Another key moment may come shortly before Biden returns to Washington on Saturday. The White House said it plans to “comment on the joint efforts of the free world to support the people of Ukraine, hold Russia accountable for its brutal war, and defend a future rooted in democratic principles.”

Sullivan said the goal of Biden and fellow leaders would be to “draw a long-term game plan” of the forces and capabilities needed for the eastern countries of the coalition.

Four new NATO battle groups, usually numbering between 1,000–1,500 soldiers, are being established in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria.

At all times, national security officials from Washington to Warsaw worry that Putin might deploy chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons. Sullivan said aides would consult on how to respond to such “potential contingencies.”

Biden said this week that the prospect of Russia’s use of chemical weapons poses a “real threat”.

Stoltenberg on Thursday declined to discuss whether such a strike was a red line that would lead an alliance with Russia to war. “I would not speculate beyond the fact that NATO is always ready to defend, defend and respond to any type of attack on a NATO ally,” he said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a CNN interview this week that Russia may consider using its nuclear weapons if it believes “there is a potential threat to our country.”

EU executive branch chief Ursula von der Leyen said before Biden’s visit to discuss the possibility of securing additional deliveries of liquefied natural gas from the United States for the 27-nation bloc “for the next two winters”. want to

The EU imports 90% of the natural gas used for electricity, heat houses and the supply industry, Russia supplies about 40% of the EU’s gas and a quarter of oil. The bloc is looking at ways to reduce its reliance on Russian gas by diversifying suppliers.

Sullivan said the United States was looking for ways to “increase” LNG supplies to Europe to help.

A new sanctions option that Biden is weighing in is targeting members of the Russian State Duma, the lower house of parliament, according to a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations. The new sanctions will be implemented in coordination with Western allies.

Biden arrived in Brussels with Americans and swiftly acknowledged the need for the US to help stop Putin, according to a poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

But even as anxiety among Americans grew and support for a major US role in the conflict strengthened last month, Biden’s negative approval ratings haven’t been shaken, an AP-NORC poll found. Very few believe he can handle the crisis, and most think he lacks rigor in dealing with Russia.

Biden promised voters he had experience navigating the complex international emergency facing Europe and that his trip would be the latest test of that proposition.

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Madani reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Matthew Lee, Hannah Fingerhut and Darlene Superville in Washington, Daria Litvinova in Lviv, Ukraine, and Samuel Petrequin in Brussels contributed to this report.

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