Western powers have threatened to impose “severe” sanctions on Russia, which will hit the financial and energy sectors, should President Vladimir Putin order an invasion of Ukraine, something the United States fears will happen imminently. These threats were communicated after a videoconference in which US President Joe Biden and the heads of state or government of six allied countries (United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Canada) participated together with the leaders of NATO and the European Union (EU).
“All diplomatic efforts seek to persuade Russia to go towards de-escalation. The aim is to prevent a war in Europe,” the spokesman for the German head of government tweeted after the conclave. But “the allies are determined to jointly take swift and severe sanctions against Russia if further violations of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty arise,” he added. The sanctions will mainly target “the finance and energy sectors, as well as exports of high-tech products,” said the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, quoted in a statement from this body, considered as the Executive of the EU.
The United States estimates that Russia could take action in Ukraine “at any time,” even before the end of the Beijing Olympics scheduled for Feb. 20, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said. “We continue to see signs of Russian escalation, including the arrival of new forces on the border with Ukraine,” Sullivan told reporters in Washington. However, the United States “is not saying” that Putin has already made the decision to invade, he said.
The head of US diplomacy, Antony Blinken, considered shortly before that Russia could invade Ukraine “at any time”, after having concentrated more than 100,000 soldiers and heavy weapons on its border with that former Soviet republic.
He tweeted that “U.S. officials anticipate a horrific and bloody campaign that begins with two days of aerial bombardment and electronic warfare, followed by an invasion, with the possible goal of regime change.” Earlier, the leadership of the Russian Defense Ministry assured the United Kingdom through its head, Sergei Shoigu, and the Chief of the General Staff, Valeri Gerasimov, that Moscow will not invade Ukraine, a statement that London takes “seriously”, but wants to be accompanied by facts.
Israel today announced the evacuation of the families of diplomats and staff from its embassy in Ukraine “due to the deterioration of the situation,” as fears of Russian military action grow.