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Ukraine conflict: US senators prepare sanctions against Russia

On Wednesday, the US Senate published a draft bill with sanctions to be imposed on the Kremlin if Russia attacks Ukraine. The targets of the sanctions include the controversial Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline and Putin himself.
The situation recently came to a head when Russia deployed tens of thousands of soldiers to the border with Ukraine shortly before the turn of the year. The reinforcement of Russian troops could be seen on satellite images from a US company in December. Kiev and Western governments then feared an invasion by Russian troops, but Moscow denied the attack plans.

The draft legislation presented is based on the initiative of Democratic US senators, who want to impose extensive sanctions in the event of an escalation on the Russian-Ukrainian border. The sanctions package provides for high-ranking military and government representatives - including Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu - to be affected, as well as President Vladimir Putin himself. Important banks in the country are also to be sanctioned.

Another target of the sanctions is the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline, which the USA wants to prevent from going into operation in the event of an invasion. The pipeline will allow gas to flow directly from Russia to Europe without passing through the transit country Ukraine. The USA is criticizing Nord Stream 2 as it fears that Europe will become too dependent on Russia.

For the bill to come into force, the US President must state that Russia is directly or indirectly contributing to a new escalation of violence in Ukraine. The USA and the Western defense alliance NATO are demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops from the border with Ukraine. In return, Russia is demanding a commitment from NATO not to expand the military alliance further to the east and to accept Ukraine into NATO, as well as to refrain from stationing offensive weapons near the Russian border.

Crisis meeting in Geneva

The draft law was preceded by a meeting between representatives of the US and Russian State Departments on the Ukraine crisis, which took place in Geneva on January 10. Following the talks, the US State Department threatened Russia with export controls and economic sanctions in the event of an attack on Ukraine. The threatened sanctions included a ban on the export of computer and consumer electronics goods containing US technology, such as smartphones, games consoles and televisions, as well as machine tools and aircraft electronics. This would mean that Russia would be affected by sanctions from the USA similar to those already imposed on Iran, Cuba, North Korea and Syria.

According to the German-Russian Chamber of Foreign Trade, a recent report by the US news agency Bloomberg, which indicates a softening in the coverage of Ukraine by Russian state media, speaks against a planned Russian invasion of Ukraine (source: AHK Morning Telegram of 11 January). Since the beginning of December, fewer and fewer negative reports have appeared about the neighboring country. A similar development was last observed in spring, before Russia withdrew its troops from the border with Ukraine.
You can find the full draft law here.