G7 to phase out Russian oil, US sanctions Gazprombank executives over war in Ukraine | world news

By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland

WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) – The Group of Seven (G7) countries pledged on Sunday to ban or phase out imports of Russian oil and the United States unveiled sanctions against leaders of Gazprombank and other companies to punish Moscow for his war against Ukraine.

The move represents the West’s latest attempt to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin for his country’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting deadly consequences.

President Joe Biden joined G7 leaders in a videoconference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to discuss war, support for Ukraine and further action against Moscow, including on energy.

“We are committed to phasing out our dependence on Russian energy, including by removing or prohibiting the import of Russian oil. We will ensure that we do so in a timely and orderly manner,” the leaders of the G7 in a joint statement. “We will work together and with our partners to ensure a stable and sustainable global energy supply and affordable prices for consumers.”

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Meanwhile, the United States unveiled sanctions against three Russian TV stations, banned Americans from providing accounting and consulting services to Russians, and imposed some 2,600 visa restrictions on Russian and Belarusian officials.

The action taken against Gazprombank executives was the first involving the Russian gas exporting giant, as the United States and its allies avoided taking action that could lead to disruptions in gas supplies to Europe, main customer of Russia.

Gazprombank’s sanctioned executives include Alexy Miller and Andrey Akimov, according to a US Treasury Department statement https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20220508.

“It’s not a complete block. We’re not freezing Gazprombank’s assets or prohibiting any transactions with Gazprombank,” a senior Biden administration official told reporters. “What we are signaling is that Gazprombank is not a safe haven, and so we are sanctioning some of their key corporate executives…to create a deterrent effect.”

Biden, who hailed Western leaders’ unity in standing up to Russian President Vladimir Putin, met via video conference from his home in Delaware, where he is spending the weekend.

The meeting comes ahead of Russia’s Victory Day celebrations on Monday. Putin calls the invasion a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it of anti-Russian nationalism fomented by the West. Ukraine and its allies say Russia has launched an unprovoked war.

The United States and Europe have imposed crushing sanctions on Russia since its invasion, targeting banks, businesses and individuals in an effort to squeeze the Russian economy and limit the resources used to advance the war.

Eight executives of Sberbank, which owns a third of Russia’s banking assets, have been added to the latest US sanctions list. The Moscow Industrial Bank and its 10 subsidiaries were also added.

“Taken together, today’s actions are a continuation of Russia’s systematic and methodical withdrawal from the global financial and economic system. And the message is that there will be no safe haven for the Russian economy if Putin’s invasion continues,” the official said.

The new export control restrictions were aimed at directly undermining Putin’s war effort, including controls on industrial engines, bulldozers, wood products, motors and fans. The European Union is going along with additional controls on chemicals that directly feed the Russian military effort, the official said.

The limited liability company Promtekhnologiya, an arms manufacturer, was sanctioned, along with seven shipping companies and a marine towage company. The White House also said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would suspend special nuclear material export licenses to Russia.

The sanctioned television stations are directly or indirectly controlled by the state, the White House said, and included the joint-stock company Channel One Russia, the television station Russia-1 and the joint-stock company NTV Broadcasting Company.

Americans will be banned from providing accounting, trust and business formation and management consulting services to Russians, although the provision of legal services will still be permitted.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Lisa Shumaker)

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