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Biden announces hundreds of new sanctions targeting Russia

<span>Joe Biden said the news sanctions ‘will ensure Putin pays a steeper price for his aggression abroad’.</span><span>Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters</span>
Joe Biden said the news sanctions ‘will ensure Putin pays a steeper price for his aggression abroad’.Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters

Joe Biden on Friday announced that Washington would issue more than 500 new sanctions targeting Russia as the US seeks to increase pressure on Moscow to mark the second anniversary of its war in Ukraine.

Related: Ukrainian children who lost loved ones in war to address UN security council

The US will also impose new export restrictions on nearly 100 entities for providing support to Russia, and take action to further reduce Russia’s energy revenues, the president said in a statement.

Biden has said the measures seek to hold Russia to account over the war and the death of the opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Washington expects to continue to support Ukraine even as that country faces shortages of ammunition and US military aid has been delayed for months in Congress.

“They will ensure Putin pays an even steeper price for his aggression abroad and repression at home,” Biden said of the new sanctions.

Friday’s measures target individuals connected to Navalny’s imprisonment as well as Russia’s financial sector, defence industrial base, procurement networks and sanctions evaders across multiple continents, he said.

“Two years into this war, the people of Ukraine continue to fight with tremendous courage. But they are running out of ammunition. Ukraine needs more supplies from the United States to hold the line against Russia’s relentless attacks, which are enabled by arms and ammunition from Iran and North Korea,” Biden added.

“That’s why the House of Representatives must pass the bipartisan national security supplemental bill, before it’s too late.”

The deputy US treasury secretary, Wally Adeyemo, said on Thursday that the action – taken in partnership with other countries – crucially aims to target companies in third countries that facilitate Russia’s access to goods it wants.

Thousands of sanctions already target Moscow following the 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which has killed tens of thousands of people and destroyed cities – including a price ceiling on oil, a key way Russia pays for the war. A coalition involving the G7 leading economies, the EU and Australia had set a price cap of $60 a barrel of Russian crude.

The new penalties, which the treasury said were the largest single tranche since the start of the war, come as the US and its allies look to maintain pressure on Russia, despite doubts over whether the US Congress will approve additional security assistance for Kyiv.

Biden’s administration has exhausted money previously approved for Ukraine, and a request for additional funds is languishing in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

“Sanctions and export controls are geared towards slowing Russia down, making it harder for them to fight their war of choice in Ukraine,” Adeyemo said. “But ultimately, in order to speed Ukraine up, to give them the ability to defend themselves, Congress needs to act to give Ukraine the resources that they need and the weapons they need.”

Experts have warned that the sanctions are not enough to stop Moscow’s attacks.

“What Congress does to pass additional military assistance to Ukraine is going to matter far, far more than anything else they could do on the sanctions front,” Peter Harrell, a former national security council official, said.

The US Department of the Treasury in December said Russia’s economy had been hit by the sanctions, contracting by 2.1% in 2022.

Russia’s economy is over 5% smaller than had been previously predicted, Rachel Lyngaas, the treasury’s chief sanctions economist, said on the department’s website.

Still, Russia’s economy has performed above expectations, with the International Monetary Fund in January forecasting 2.6% GDP growth for 2024 – a 1.5- point upgrade from an October estimate – after solid 3.0% growth in 2023.

An IMF spokesperson, Julie Kozack, said on Thursday it was “clear that Russia is now in a war economy”, with military expenditures boosting weapons production, government social transfers propping up consumption and inflation that is rising, despite declines elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, was in Ukraine on Friday to try to reassure the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and other officials that Congress will deliver another round of US aid, even as a package that would provide $60bn to the war-torn country is stalled in the US House.

The Senate passed a $95bn package to aid Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan last week, but the Republican House speaker, Mike Johnson, has not yet put forward a plan for passing it in the House.

In an interview before his trip, Schumer told the Associated Press he planned to tell Ukrainian officials that “we’re going to win this fight, and America is not abandoning them”.

“I feel I have to be there because it’s so crucial,” Schumer said. “We are right at a vortex, a critical turning point in the whole west. And if we abandon Ukraine, the consequences for America are severe.”

Biden has continued to tell Zelenskiy that he will get the aid to Ukraine, but has expressed concerns about whether the House would be able to pass the aid before Russia takes more Ukrainian territory.

“The idea now when they are running out of ammunition that we’re going to walk away, I find it absurd,” Biden told reporters after speaking to Zelenskiy last weekend.

The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse contributed reporting