A woman eats food given to her by volunteers at a food delivery station run by a Hare Krishna group in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on May 20, 2022. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 15 (UPI) -- The Biden administration imposed a slew of punitive measures targeting Russia on Thursday and announced hundreds of millions of dollars in new weapons for Ukraine, as the Kremlin warned the United States against crossing the "red line" by sending Kyiv longe-rang artillery.
The U.S. Treasury, State and Commerce Departments took aim Thursday at Russian defense entities, key advanced-technology firms that support the Kremlin's defense base and Moscow's financial infrastructure with sanctions and designations on dozens of entities and officials and expanded export controls.
The State Department specifically designated 22 people, including Maxim Stanislavovich Oreshkin, a former Russian economic development minister and the leader of the board of directors of the government.
Five Russians appointed to head Kremlin civilian-military governments in Ukraine were hit with the punitive designations for stealing Ukrainian grain for Moscow while 17 other appointed heads of Russian governments in Ukrainian territory were designated for being complicit in efforts to undermine Kyiv's sovereignty.
Thirty-one defense, technology and electronics entities were also designated "to further constrain Russia's advanced technology industries and their contribution to Russia's defense industrial base," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
"The United States will continue to take actions against those who support Russia's defense-industrial base, its violation of human rights and its attempts to legitimize its occupation of Ukrainian territory, wherever they may be," he said.
In the coordinated move, the U.S. Treasury also targeted 22 Russian officials and two entities with asset freezes and travel bans over furthering the Kremlin's objectives in Ukraine.
Among those sanctioned include Maria Alexeyevna Lvova-Belova, Russia's presidential commissioner for Children's Rights and who works directly under Russian President Vladimir Putin, over efforts to forcibly deport thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia where they receive so-called patriot education.
Ramzan Akhmatovic Kadyrov and six of his family members were sanctioned over his position as the leader of Russia's Republic of Chechnya and for being a "brutal warlord" who has been accused of torture and murder as well as deploying troops to Ukraine, including to Bucha, where Russian forces brutally killed hundreds of civilians in what has become a symbol of the war's cruelty.
A neo-Nazi militia fighting in Ukraine as well as its leaders and seven Russian occupation authorities accused of abusing Ukrainians were also hit with sanctions while the Treasury imposed a prohibition on quantum computing services to cut Moscow off from key services offered by U.S. companies.
"Those designated today -- from perpetrators of violence to an official facilitating the purposeful removal of children from Ukraine -- provide examples of the behavior that has become synonymous with the Government of Russia's unprovoked war," Blinken said.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen described the actions as the United States seeking to hold Russia accountable for "its war crimes, atrocities and aggression."
"As Ukraine presses forward with defending its freedom, today we're taking steps to further degrade Russia's ability to rebuild its military, hold perpetrators of violence accountable and further financially isolate Putin," she said in a statement.
As part of the U.S. actions, the Commerce expanded and tightened U.S. export controls of Russia and Belarus by adding items useful to their chemical and biological weapons production capabilities and those needed for advanced manufacturing, production and development.
Meanwhile, the State Department separately announced a drawdown of some $600 million in U.S. arms and equipment from its military inventory for Ukraine on Thursday.
The 21st drawdown since September for Ukraine brings the total U.S. military assistance to the war-torn country to $15.8 amid the Biden administration.
The specifics of the weapons and equipment pledged were not revealed.
Amid the nearly seven-month-old war, the United States and its allies have repeatedly armed Ukraine in its fight while Kyiv officials continue to call on the West for larger and more advanced weaponry.
In Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's nightly public address Thursday, he called for additional air defense systems, stating without them "Russia will continue to feel impunity and provoke new local and global crises."
"Supporting Ukraine with weapons, ammunition and finances is crucial for peace in Europe," he said. "The better support we have, the sooner this war will end."
Russia, in turn, has repeatedly warned the United States against arming Ukraine and have accused it of participating in a "proxy war."
On Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters during a press briefing in Moscow amid worries that Kyiv intends to ask Washington, D.C., for long-range missiles that if it complies the United States will have crossed a "'red line' and become a direct party to the conflict."
"We reserve the right to protect Russian territory by all means available to us," she said. "Such an irresponsible step will be extremely destabilizing, contribute to an additional increase in tensions and provoke an arms race."