The U.S. government announced massive additional sanctions on Russia on the 15th.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) released additional sanctions on two Russian companies and 22 individuals today, explaining that it helped circumvent international financial sanctions imposed after the invasion of Ukraine.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a press release that the sanctions were aimed at neutralizing Russia’s attempts to rebuild its military.
He added that he would continue to take strong action to hold accountable for war crimes.
Currently, the Russian army has withdrawn its troops from the northeastern front of Ukraine and has withdrawn its troops back home. It offered the title of reorganizing the force in the occupied Donbas area in eastern Ukraine.
The U.S. Treasury Department said the move was “concurrent with the Department of Commerce’s additional export controls to Russia and the State Department’s actions targeting Russia’s defense and high-tech industries.”
On the same day, the U.S. State Department added 22 Russian-related individuals and 31 entities to its list of sanctions targets. Human rights violations and the theft of Ukrainian grain are the reasons.
The U.S. Treasury and State Department’s actions were made public shortly after a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
During their bilateral talks during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, President Xi and President Putin confirmed strong support for both sides on the Taiwan issue and the Ukraine war.
Russian President Vladimir Putin praised China’s “balanced position”, especially in Ukraine.
China defends Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying it understands Russia’s security threats from NATO’s move forward.
■ The US “worries around the world closeness between China and Russia”
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Ned Price said at a briefing on the 15th that the world is concerned about the close relationship between China and Russia.
In particular, he criticized Russia, which is isolated from the international community, for reaching out to North Korea and Iran.
Speaking of Russia’s recent move to search for arms supplies, Price said, “It clearly shows that Russian President Putin is trying to grab every possible lifeline.”
“He (President Putin) is turning his eyes to countries like North Korea, and the process of turning his eyes to countries like Iran is ongoing,” he said.
The New York Times reported on the 5th that U.S. authorities reported that Russia was recently purchasing weapons such as rockets and shells from North Korea to be used in the Ukraine war.
Since then, major US government officials have confirmed this information and criticized Russia’s actions.
■ Approval of additional logistical support for Ukraine
The White House on the 15th approved up to $600 million in additional military aid for Ukraine.
The White House explained to the media that this support package consists of weapons, equipment and services, as well as related training.
According to a statement from the U.S. Department of Defense on the same day, the weapons included in the support include 36,000 105mm shells, 1,000 155mm precision-guided shells, four artillery radars, an unmanned aerial vehicle response system, and mine removal equipment.
The Ministry of National Defense said that additional ammunition for the high-speed mobile artillery system (HIMARS) will be provided.
Ukrainian authorities welcomed it.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Olexi Rezhnikow said on Twitter on the 16th that “this is good news from the United States” and “the 21st security assistance has been approved.”
He went on to reveal the details, emphasizing “another investment in the victory of the free world on the battlefield in Ukraine.”
■ Over $15 billion in total
The United States has been Ukraine’s biggest supporter since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. It has provided more than $15 billion in military aid in total.
In particular, it is noteworthy that this announcement came immediately after the Ukrainian army began making progress in its massive counterattack against the Russian army.
White House National Security Council (NSC) Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby announced on the 13th that additional military support was announced and explained that “we are discussing in real time what kind of military support is needed.” .
The Ukrainian side has been requesting the long-range missile ATACMS over the past few months, but it has not been mentioned in the announcement.
■ 440 bodies found in mass burials…”Atrocities such as electric torture”
In the midst of this, a mass burial site was discovered in Izium, in the northeastern Kharkiv province, which the Ukrainian army recently recaptured from Russia.
There are at least 440 buried, and local police authorities said on the 15th that they started an investigation focusing on the possibility of a massacre by Russian troops.
Serhi Bolvinou, head of the Kharkiv Regional Police Investigation Department, told Sky News that after Ukrainian troops entered Izium, more than 440 burial sites were found nearby.
Most of the bodies buried were said to have been shot or killed by artillery shells or land mines.
It was also revealed that the Russian military had committed atrocities such as electric torture and murder against residents.
Ukraine’s Interior Ministry announced on the same day that “torture chambers” where Russian soldiers used electric torture were found in cities recaptured by Ukrainian forces.
Deputy Interior Minister Yevchen Enin claimed that “Russian forces have detained Ukrainian citizens and foreigners and have repeatedly tortured and executed them.”
■ “Check hundreds of graves in the forest”
The Associated Press reported that a mass burial site was identified in the forest outside Igeum. The burial site was marked with the bodies of 17 Ukrainian soldiers, surrounded by hundreds of individual tombs with cross marks, the Associated Press said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky mentioned this in a video speech on the 15th, but did not disclose the size of the body or the cause of death.
However, he said, “The necessary procedures have already begun there,” he said, adding, “More clear and verified information will come out tomorrow.”
President Zelensky said, “After Bucha and Mariupol, it is now Igeum.” “The world should hold Russia accountable for this war, and we will do everything we can to make it happen.”
Bucha is a small town near the capital Kyu (Russian name Kyiv), where the suspicion of genocide of civilians arose after the Russian army took over and retreated in the early stages of the war. Mariupol is a port city in the southeast occupied by Russian forces.
■ US State “need to establish accountability”
US Secretary of State Tony Blincoln has accused Russia of continuing war crimes over the discovery of a mass burial site in Izium, Ukraine.
“Whenever Russian troops withdraw from occupied territory in Ukraine, we will see what is left as a result,” Blincoln stressed to reporters today.
Blincoln also urged Ukrainian authorities to maintain evidence to document these atrocities and said that “there is a need for accountability (against Russia).”
This is Jongsu Oh from VOA News.