In an open threat to the Russian government, the United States and Britain on Sunday announced to have discussed ‘devastating' economic sanctions against Russia, in case of any misadventure on Ukraine.
This comes amid the large scale of Russian troops' movement and military buildup across the Ukraine border. Western countries fear an imminent invasion by Russian forces, even as Moscow has denied any such plans.
In Washington, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said it was crucial that the United States send a powerful message to Russian President Vladimir Putin that any such aggression would come at a very high cost. “We cannot have a Munich moment again,” Senator Bob Menendez said. “Putin will not stop with Ukraine.”
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee head also indicated that some penalties could be levied over actions Russia has already taken in Ukraine, including cyberattacks, but that “the devastating sanctions that ultimately would crush Russia.” would come if Moscow goes ahead with the Ukraine invasion.
US Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland said the White House is working closely with the Senate and that any sanctions measures would be “very well aligned” with those coming from European allies. Putin “will feel it acutely, as will the Russian people,” she said.
In London, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Britain would unveil sanctions legislation next week targeting “a much wider variety” of Russian economic targets. “There will be nowhere to hide for Putin's oligarchs,” Truss said.
Analysts say an array of sanctions hitting Russian banks and financial institutions would not only affect daily life throughout Russia but could roil major economies in Europe and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Britain is preparing to offer NATO a ‘major' deployment of troops, weapons, warships and jets, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Saturday. At the same time, he is expected to speak with Putin next week.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Sunday welcomed the increased military support from Britain while also endorsing London's “diplomatic initiative.” Russia has repeatedly denied posing a threat to the onetime Soviet republic and said Sunday it wants ‘respectful' dealings with Washington.
Earlier citing NATO's presence near its eastern border, Russia has put forward security demands to Washington and the US-led military alliance. They include a guarantee that NATO will not admit new members, in particular Ukraine, and that the United States will not establish new military bases in ex-Soviet countries.
Russia has also demanded a pullback of NATO forces deployed to eastern European and ex-Soviet countries that joined the alliance after the Cold War.