US, allies flex muscles against Russia in summits

US President Joe Biden (left) was the central figure of the summits in Brussels, also attended by French President Emmanuel Macron (centre) and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right)

The United States and allies upped the pressure on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine at summits in Brussels Thursday, warning Moscow its costs will keep rising the longer the war continues.

Washington unveiled fresh sanctions on Russian lawmakers and defense contractors, and outlined a push by the G7 to freeze Russia out of international organizations and to cut it off from its gold reserves.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky also participated by videolink. He pleaded with NATO leaders to send his forces weapons “without restrictions”.

NATO has repeatedly ruled out Kyiv’s demand that it impose a no-fly zone and said it would not send forces into Ukraine for fear of nuclear-armed Russia escalating and expanding the conflict.

Notably, the US said it and allies were discussing sending anti-ship missiles to Ukraine.

He warned Russia against mounting any chemical attack in Ukraine — and said the alliance has activated “chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense elements” for allied forces in eastern Europe.

Stoltenberg said the alliance would also “reset” its eastern defenses in the long term by adding “substantially more forces” to face off against the threat from Moscow.

In a sign of the Western unity of purpose on Ukraine, Stoltenberg, 63, announced he would stay on in his post for another year past the original expiry of his term, to the end of September 2023, at the request of NATO leaders.

A US official said that grouping coalesced around other measures with which to hit Russia, on top of several rounds of sanctions already imposed by the US, the EU and allies.

The G7 also aimed “to blunt Russia’s ability to fund… (President Vladimir) Putin’s war, including by making clear that any transaction involving gold… is covered by existing sanctions”.

The measures, which involve freezing US-held assets, aligned with those already taken by the European Union, Britain and Canada.

“They personally gain from the Kremlin’s policies, and they should share in the pain,” he said.

One move, designed to blunt financial sanctions, is demanding “unfriendly countries” — which it considers all EU members to be — pay for Russian gas deliveries only in its beleaguered ruble.

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Originally published as US, allies flex muscles against Russia in summits

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