A Ukrainian rescue team and locals search among debris of residential buildings damaged by a shelling in the Zhytomyr region amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Monday. On Tuesday, Japan and Australia announced a slew of sanctions targeting Russian and Belarusian officials and oligarchs over their countries' involvement in invading Ukraine. Photo by Ukrainian State Emergency Service/UPI | License Photo
March 8 (UPI) -- Japan and Australia on Tuesday imposed a new round of sanctions against Russian and Belarusian officials and oligarchs as the Kremlin's war with Ukraine nears two weeks.
Tokyo's Ministry of Finance announced it was freezing the assets of 20 Russians and 12 Belarusians as well as a dozen companies and organizations.
Among those named were high-ranking members of Russian President Vladimir Putin's administration as well as those in his inner circle, such as Gennady Timchenko, the founder of Volga Group. Dmitry Peskov, Putin's press secretary, was also hit.
Belarusians named included President Alexander Lukashenko's two sons, Viktor and Dmitry.
The sanctions also bar the export of oil refining equipment to Russia and the export of general-purpose goods that could contribute to strengthening the military capabilities of Belarus.
In a statement, Japan said it imposed the sanctions due to the "current international situation surrounding Ukraine" and following other countries in listing these individuals in order to "to maintain international peace and safety and contribute to international efforts for international peace."
Tokyo is one of the few countries in Asia to take a hard stance against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, imposing several rounds of sanctions against Russian officials and oligarchs as well as excluding seven Russian banks from the SWIFT payments network.
"Our nation will continue to collaborate with the Group of Seven [nations] and the international community toward an improvement in the situation," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said during a press conference, according to Kyodo news agency.
The sanctions came as Australia imposed another round of its own targeting those involved in Russia's attack on Ukraine and spreading Kremlin propaganda and disinformation.
Canberra listed six unnamed senior Russian military commanders for asset freezes and travel bans on accusations of "implementing naval, ground and air attacks" on their neighboring country, Minister of foreign Affairs Marise Payne said Tuesday in a statement.
Ten unnamed individuals were also hit with sanctions "for their role in encouraging hostility towards Ukraine and promoting pro-Kremlin propaganda to legitimize Russia's invasion," she said.
Payne accused the individuals of spreading Putin's "false narratives" about the objective of the invasion being the denazification of Ukraine as well as making "erroneous allegations" of Kyiv committing genocide against ethnic Russian and promoting the recognition of the Luhansk and Donetsk people's republics.
With the start of Moscow's anticipated invasion of Ukraine, Putin announced the independence of the two Russian separatist-controlled regions and said they would begin a "special military operation" in Ukraine to demilitarizer and denazify it as Putin has claimed the country to be controlled by Nazis.
"Russia's invasion of Ukraine has been accompanied by a widespread disinformation campaign, both within Russia and internationally," she said. "Tragically for Russia, President Putin has shut down independent voices and locked everyday Russians into a world characterized by lies and disinformation."
Like Japan, Australia has already imposed a slew of sanctions against Russia along with allies the United States, Canada, Britain and the European Union as part of their effort to isolate Moscow and cripple its economy.