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EU, Australia, Taiwan, Japan hit Russia again with sanctions over Ukraine invasion

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EU, Australia, Taiwan, Japan hit Russia again with sanctions over Ukraine invasion
Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, announced that they have approved another round of sanctions on Friday targeting Russia's economy over the invasion of Ukraine. Photo courtesy of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen/Twitter

Feb. 24 (UPI) -- The European Union, Australia, Taiwan and Japan leveled sanctions Friday against Russia with heavy restrictions to chip makers over its invasion of Ukraine.

The new tranches of punitive measures follow the United States, Canada and Britain a day earlier targeting Moscow's economy in an effort to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for what they say is an illegal attack against the sovereignty of its neighbor.

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In Brussels during an emergency meeting, the European Council approved sanctions that cover Russia's financial, energy and transport sectors, restrict dual-use goods and export control and export financing as well as limit visas and create additional listings of Russian individuals for personal sanctions.

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, told reporters during a press conference following the meeting that the sanctions on top of those the 27-member block unveiled days earlier against Russia will have an accumulative effect and deal a heavy blow.

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"We are now targeting 70% of the Russian banking market, but also key state-owned companies, including the field of defense," she said. "These sanctions will increase Russia's borrowing costs, raise inflation and gradually erode Russia's industrial base. We are also targeting the Russian elite by curbing thier deposits so that they cannot hide their money any more in safe havens in Europe."

Through targeting the energy sector, the sanctions will make it "impossible" for Russia to upgrade its oil refineries that brought the country some $26.9 billion in 2019, she said.

The sale of aircraft, spare parts and equipment are banned under the new measures, which Leyen said will further degrade a key sector of Moscow's economy and its ability to connect with the wider world as three-quarters of its fleet were built by the EU, the United States and Canada.

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The sanctions also target Russia's ability to modernize by restricting its access to semiconductors and other cutting-edge technology.

Concerning visas, diplomats and other related groups and business people will no longer have privilege access to the union.

"President Putin chose to bring back war to Europe. This is a fully fledged invasion of Ukraine," she said. "And this fundamentally puts into question our peace order."

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She accused Putin of attempting to subjugate a European nation in an effort to redraw the maps of the continent by force.

"He must, and he will, fail," she said.

In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a third round of sanctions against Russia, blacklisting more than 300 Russian Parliament members who authorized the use of troops in Ukraine.

He told reporters during a press conference that the sanctions, coordinated with the United States and other partners, have also been extended to complicit Belarusian officials and Russian Troops were stationed in the European nation until the invasion began.

"This is being done to demonstrate very forcibly that we are all working together to shut Russia out as a result of its violence and their unlawful actions, which were unprovoked," he said during a press conference.

The Canberra measures came a day after it hit Russian banks and several officials with sanctions.

During the conference, Morrison also chastised China for easing restrictions on Russia while the rest of the world was attempting a coalition against it.

"So a time when Australia with the United Kingdom together, with the United States and Europe, and Japan are acting to cutoff Russia, the Chinese government is following through with easing trade restrictions with Russia, and that is simply unacceptable," he said.

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"You don't go and throw a lifeline to Russia in the middle of a period when they're invading another country," he said.

In Japan, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced a second round of sanctions against Russia that specifically target its ability to import semiconductors.

The measures also freeze assists and bar entrance to unnamed Russian individuals as well as free assets of Russian institutions.

Organizations affiliated with Russia's military will also be hit through items being placed on export ban lists.

Kishida said the substance of the sanctions package was formed following a meeting with the Group of Seven nations.

"We can show the strength of the solidarity of the international community," he said.

Taiwan on Friday also said it will join partners in leveling punitive measures against Russia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

The specifics were not released, but the ministry said Taiwan would sanction Russia to compel it to halt its military aggression again Ukraine.

"Taiwan opposes any unilateral change to the status quo by force or coercion, and supports peaceful, rational dialogue and negotiation among relate countries," it said.

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stopped short of imposing sanctions and suspended bilateral foreign ministry consultations between countries.

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She also announced a ban on the issuance of visas to Russian officials and those linked to the invasion of Ukraine, and prohibited the export of goods for use by the Russian military and security forces, including weapons and dual-use technologies.

"The invasion poses a significant threat to peace and security in the region and will trigger a humanitarian and refugee crisis," she said in a statement.

Russia has said that Western sanctions will not deter it from its mission, which Putin defined in a televised speech early Thursday while the widely anticipated invasion began as the "demilitarization" a "denazification" of Ukraine.

Western countries and allies responded to the invasion with condemnation and sanctions.

Following the first day of fighting, government officials have said at least 137 Ukrainians have been killed.

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