Ukraine crisis arouses concerns, US, EU, Britain announce sanctions against Russia
23:01, February 23, 2022

A general view of the Kremlin, Red Square and St. Basil's Cathedral in central Moscow on February 22, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

BEIJING, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- Tensions between Russia and Ukraine continue to intensify as Russia recognized "the Lugansk People's Republic" and "the Donetsk People's Republic" as "independent and sovereign states."

As the Ukraine crisis is arousing widespread concerns, the United States, the European Union (EU), and Britain have announced sanctions against Russia for its latest actions.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced "the first tranche" of sanctions against Russia.

Calling Russia's move "the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine," Biden said in remarks delivered from the White House that his administration will impose sanctions on two Russian financial institutions -- the VEB and the country's military bank -- as well as on Russia's sovereign debt and five individuals.

He explained that the measure "means we've cut off Russia's government from Western financing. It can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade in its new debt on our markets or European markets either."

Additional sanctions will be followed if the situation escalates, he said.

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called off a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov scheduled for Thursday.

In a statement on Tuesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said EU member states had given their political consent to a new package of sanctions against Russia.

The package contains a number of "calibrated measures" targeting banks that finance the Russian military apparatus and contribute to the destabilization of Ukraine.

It also bans trade between the two regions and the EU, as it did with Crimea in 2014, and limits the Russian government's ability to raise capital on the EU's financial markets.

According to Josep Borrell, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, the package comprises sanctions against 351 members of the Russian State Duma or lower house of the country's Federal Assembly, who voted to recognize the two "republics."

EU flags. (Photo: CGTN)

The EU will also "target 27 individuals and entities who are playing a role in undermining or threatening Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence," he said.

Furthermore, the sanctions aim to target the Russian state's ability to access the EU's capital and financial markets and services.

"If Russia continues to escalate this crisis that it has created, we are ready to take further action in response," von der Leyen said.

On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a range of sanctions against Russia.

Johnson said that Britain would sanction five Russian banks and three very high net worth individuals.

"Any assets they hold in the UK will be frozen, the individuals concerned will be banned from traveling here, and we will prohibit all UK individuals and entities from having any dealings with them," he said, adding that this is the "first tranche, the first barrage, of what we are prepared to do alongside the United States and the European Union if the situation escalates still further."