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Ukraine updates: US imposes 500 new sanctions on Russia

Published February 23, 2024last updated February 23, 2024

The sanctions come as Russia's war in Ukraine threatens to drag on for a third year, and follows the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in a penal colony.

An Orthodox Church heavily damaged by shelling from the Russian army above the ruins of a small town
Saturday marks the second anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine Image: Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

The United States on Friday announced sanctions against 500 entities involved in Russia's "war machine."

President Joe Biden said in a statement: "If [Russian President Vladimir] Putin does not pay the price for his death and destruction, he will keep going. And the costs to the United States — along with our NATO Allies and partners in Europe and around the world — will rise."

The Russian ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, said the sanctions were a "cynical attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of the Russian Federation."

Elsewhere, a Russian drone attack on the Ukrainian port city of Odesa killed one person, the Ukraine military said.

Here's a look at the latest developments in Russia's war in Ukraine on Friday, February 23:

Skip next section 'We are the ones protecting Europe' from Putin, Ukrainian MP tells DW
February 23, 2024

'We are the ones protecting Europe' from Putin, Ukrainian MP tells DW

Ukrainian lawmaker Kira Rudik has called on Kyiv's allies to "step up" and keep sending weapons and ammunition so the country can defend itself from Russia.

Rudik made the comments in an interview with DW on the eve of the second anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion.

"The shortage of ammunition that we are talking about — it's not just some general shortage of ammunition — it means that people at the front do not have the ability to fight back," she said. "It means that our air defense systems do not have enough to protect us." 

Rudik said Ukraine was "grateful for everything that we have received so far," but "we really want our allies to step up."

She urged Germany to deliver Taurus cruise missiles, saying, "We need them for our survival." 

German lawmakers this week rejected a motion to send Taurus missiles to Ukraine, instead backing an initiative to provide "long-range weapons systems and ammunition."

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has resisted domestic and foreign pressure to supply Taurus missiles, fearing an escalation of the conflict.

Rudik said the war was not just about Ukraine. "It is much bigger than us. You have heard [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. Do you think that this man will stop at something? He will not stop unless he is stopped." 

"I think we are the ones who are protecting Europe right now, and we are willing to do that over and over, but we need the means to do that."

Skip next section Ukraine says shot down Russian spy plane over Azov Sea
February 23, 2024

Ukraine says shot down Russian spy plane over Azov Sea

Ukraine's military says it has shot down a Russian A-50U surveillance aircraft over the Sea of Azov.

It is the second time in a little over a month that Ukraine has reported downing an A-50 plane.

Moscow has made no official comment on the incident.

Russian news agencies cited emergency services in Russia's southern Krasnodar region as saying fire crews were at the scene of an air crash, without elaborating.

"Another valuable Russian A-50U aircraft was shot down over the Sea of Azov," Ukrainian military intelligence said in a post on social media.

"The downing of the A-50U is another serious blow to the potential and capabilities of terrorist Moscow," it added.

A Beriev A-50 airborne early warning and control training aircraft flies over Moscow
The A-50 is a Russian reconnaissance plane, equivalent to the AWACS (Airborne warning and control system) plane used by NATOImage: Vladimir Gerdo/TASS/dpa/picture alliance
Skip next section Russia wants to 'destroy' Ukraine, Kuleba tells UN
February 23, 2024

Russia wants to 'destroy' Ukraine, Kuleba tells UN

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has accused Russia of ignoring "the will of the global majority" by pushing on with a campaign to "destroy" his country.

"Russia's aim is to destroy Ukraine and they are quite outspoken about it," Kuleba said at a meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York.

"The only reason for this war has been and remains Russia's denial of Ukraine's right to exist and its continued colonial conquest."

"Russia ignores the will of the global majority. It continues its aggression, and throws more and more men into the flames of war," Kuleba said.

Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, responded by saying that people in the regions of Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk and around Kherson had voted to join Russia in referendums.

"The reality is there are no temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine," he said.

The referendums held in parts of Ukraine occupied by Russia were widely criticized by the international community and are not recognized under international law. 

Skip next section Germany's Baerbock calls on Putin to end war
February 23, 2024

Germany's Baerbock calls on Putin to end war

In an address at the UN General Assembly in New York, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine and pledged to stand with Kyiv for as long as necessary.

"All this could stop tomorrow if the Russian president ended this war war now," Baerbock said.

"If you care about a world in which every life matters in equal measure, it is up to us, and every one of us, to stand up against Russia's war," she added. 

"President Putin has proved again and again that, to him, human lives count for nothing, neither abroad, nor at home."

The UN meeting was held as Ukraine prepares to mark the second anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion.

Baerbock slams Putin in UN address

Skip next section EU chiefs underline backing for Ukraine
February 23, 2024

EU chiefs underline backing for Ukraine

The top three officials of the European Union have promised to keep up the bloc's "strong and unwavering" backing for Ukraine to end the war.  

"More than ever, we remain united and true to our promise to support Ukraine for as long as it takes," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, and the EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell said in a joint statement.

The three leaders said the support was needed "for the people of Ukraine, for peace and security in Europe, and for the rules-based international order to prevail."

"The European Union will continue its strong and unwavering political, military, financial, economic, diplomatic and humanitarian support to help Ukraine defend itself, protect its people, its cities and its critical infrastructure, restore its territorial integrity, bring back the thousands of deported children, and bring the war to an end," they added.

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Skip next section Netherlands to ink security pact with Ukraine
February 23, 2024

Netherlands to ink security pact with Ukraine

The Netherlands government says it will sign a 10-year security deal with Ukraine for continued military support, reconstruction aid, and the boosting of cyber defenses.

Dutch Foreign Minister Hanke Bruins Slot said the agreement would be signed soon, to assist Ukraine in its continued fight against Russia's invasion.

"Without Western support, Ukraine as we know it will cease to exist," Bruins Slot said. "The Russian threat will move closer, putting pressure on the stability and safety of our continent."

Earlier on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a similar deal with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen following on the heels of 10-year security agreements with the UK, Germany, and France.

Third-country nationals who fled Ukraine stuck in limbo

Skip next section Zelenskyy urges faster deliveries 'to unblock the sky'
February 23, 2024

Zelenskyy urges faster deliveries 'to unblock the sky'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for Western allies to accelerate deliveries of promised air defense systems and fighter jets.  

"The most important thing is to unblock the sky," Zelenskyy said on the eve of the second anniversary of Russia's invasion.

"Air defense and future jets will help it ... What's important is that all our decisions have to come in time," Zelenskyy told a press conference in the western city of Lviv.

Germany's Scholz noncommittal on Taurus missiles for Ukraine

Skip next section Moscow widens EU 'stop list' in response to sanctions
February 23, 2024

Moscow widens EU 'stop list' in response to sanctions

The Russian Foreign Ministry says it has significantly expanded its list of European Union officials and politicians banned from entering Russia in retaliation to a new round of sanctions by the bloc.

The EU's 27 member states approved a 13th package of sanctions against Russia related to the invasion of Ukraine on Wednesday, measures that were formally greenlighted on Friday. Nearly 200 entities and individuals — accused of helping Russia procure weapons or involvement in kidnapping Ukrainian children — are targeted.

Russia has produced a "stop list" that also includes representatives of law enforcement agencies and commercial organizations that have lent military assistance to Ukraine, representatives of European bodies involved in the prosecution of Russian officials, and individuals behind the confiscation of Russian state assets.

"The European Union is continuing its fruitless attempts to put pressure on Russia through unilateral restrictive measures," the Russian ministry said in a statement.

"In response to these unfriendly actions, the Russian side has significantly expanded the list of representatives of European institutions and EU member states, who ... are prohibited from entering the territory of our state."

"The Russian retaliatory 'stop list' also includes representatives of the Council of Europe, members of the legislative assemblies of European Union countries, members of the OSCE PA [Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] and the PACE [Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe], who systematically make aggressive statements against Russia," the statement said.

Russia using disinformation to deny Ukraine atrocities

Skip next section Council of Europe repeats steadfast support for Kyiv
February 23, 2024

Council of Europe repeats steadfast support for Kyiv

Europe's top human rights body has underlined its "unwavering support" for Ukraine on the eve of the second anniversary of Russia's invasion of the country.

Members of the Council of Europe, which comprises 46 states, expelled Russia after Moscow launched its full-scale offensive on February 24, 2022.

"We mark an anniversary that no one of wanted to see," said Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric. "Our thoughts today are with the Ukrainian people."

In a joint statement, Buric and other leaders of the Strasbourg-based council reiterated their "unwavering support for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity."

The Council of Europe was set up in the wake of World War II to monitor and uphold human rights in Europe.

"Serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law" continued to be committed said Dunja Mijatovic, the council's commissioner for human rights.

"Every effort must be made to hold accountable those responsible for all human rights violations and crimes committed in this war."

The council last year established a register of claims for reparations from Moscow for damage inflicted in the war. 

Ukraine prepares war crimes case over environmental damage

Skip next section Latest round of EU sanctions receives green light
February 23, 2024

Latest round of EU sanctions receives green light

A fresh round of European Union sanctions against Russia has cleared its final legal hurdle a day before the second anniversary of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

"We are further tightening the restrictive measures against Russia's military and defense sector," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a press release. 

Senior diplomats from the EU's 27 member states agreed on the sanctions on Wednesday in Brussels, but final approval was still required from EU capitals. That was green-lighted on Friday.

The 13th package of sanctions target the Russian defense industry, including export restrictions on technologies such as aerial drone components.

They also set their sights on target countries "who supply equipment [to Russia] as well as those responsible for the illegal deportation and military re-education of Ukrainian children."

The sanctions impose restrictions on organizations in countries including China, India, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, Thailand, and Turkey, for "supporting Russia's military and industrial complex."

They also include asset freezes and travel bans on 106 individuals and 88 organizations.

Two years into the Ukraine war: Where is it headed?

The suite of measures mean that some 2,000 people and groups are now sanctioned by the EU for "undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine."

The round of prohibitions stops EU citizens and companies from making money available to sanctioned entities, a full list of which is to be published by tomorrow in the EU's statute book.

Skip next section Biden announces fresh sanctions against Russia
February 23, 2024

Biden announces fresh sanctions against Russia

US President Joe Biden has announced new sanctions against Russia aimed at forcing Russian President Vladimir Putin to pay "an even steeper price" for the war in Ukraine and the death of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

In a statement just ahead of the second anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Biden also paid tribute to the Ukrainian people and appealed to US lawmakers to release funds for Kyiv.

The sanctions target 500 entities involved in the invasion and occupation of Ukraine, as well as those connected to the imprisonment of Navalny, who died last week.

"They will ensure Putin pays an even steeper price for his aggression abroad and repression at home," Biden said in a statement.

Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin had made an error and that the war had backfired on him in several ways."

"Two years later, we see even more vividly what we’ve known since day one: Putin miscalculated badly," said Biden.

EU struggling with Ukraine ammunition pledge

"The brave people of Ukraine fight on, unbowed in their determination to defend their freedom and future. NATO is stronger, larger, and more united than ever. And the unprecedented 50-nation global coalition in support of Ukraine, led by the United States, remains committed to providing critical assistance to Ukraine and holding Russia accountable for its aggression."

However, the US president said there was an increasing danger that the fight with Russia would be jeopardized by a lack of support in terms of weapons and ammunition provided to Ukraine. Last week, the industrial hub of Avdiivka fell to Moscow after months of bloody battles, with Kyiv's forces badly weakened by a lack of firepower.

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

Skip next section Denmark's PM signs security agreement in Kyiv
February 23, 2024

Denmark's PM signs security agreement in Kyiv

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has arrived in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv where she met President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The presidential office said the two leaders paid tribute to the memory of soldiers who have died in the war with Russia.

"We will never forget the heroes who defended our independence, freedom and future," Zelenskyy tweeted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. "Eternal glory to all who gave their lives for Ukraine!"

The pair later signed a 10-year security agreement similar to assurances on military help already concluded with the UK, Germany, and France.

Denmark is one of Ukraine's strongest supporters. TheDanish Defense Ministry has just unveiled its 15th package of military aid to Ukraine, this one worth 1.7 billion kroner ($247.4 million).

The country has financed the purchase of 15,000 artillery munitions to be delivered to Ukraine. The package also includes air defense, mine clearance material, and drones, with F-16 fighter jets pledged last year set to arrive in the coming months "if everything continues as planned."

Skip next section Drone attack kills three in Odesa
February 23, 2024

Drone attack kills three in Odesa

A Russian drone that struck a commercial district in Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odesa is now known to have killed three people, according to military and regional governor Oleh Kiper.

The Ukrainian military said Russia launched 31 drones at Ukraine overnight, with its air defenses destroying 23 of them.

The Southern Forces of Kyiv's military said despite nine Russian drones being intercepted, one hit near the port, causing a fire. The attack was with Iran-made Shahid drones, the military's post on Telegram said.

There is a possibility that people might be trapped under the rubble, the military added. Firefighters worked to bring the blaze under control, and rescue operations were ongoing.

The military said Russia also launched missiles, but they missed their target. 

In the Ukrainian city of Dnipro, another drone attack injured eight people in an apartment building, Serhiy Lysak, the governor of Dnipropetrovsk region, posted on Telegram.

 In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Emergency Service, firefighters work on the site of a burning building after a Russian attack in Odesa
Firefighters worked to extinguish a blaze near the port area of Odesa, on Ukraine's Black Sea coastImage: Ukrainian Emergency Service/AP/picture alliance
Skip next section Putin hails 'heroes' on national military holiday
February 23, 2024

Putin hails 'heroes' on national military holiday

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday hailed the "authentic heroes of the people" fighting in Ukraine on the eve of the second anniversary of the conflict.

"In these past years, the military and industrial complexes have multiplied both weapons production and supplies to troops," he said in a video message.

The message came on Moscow's "Defender of the Fatherland Day" — a festival of military pomp and Kremlin-sponsored patriotism. 

The holiday this year comes with Moscow emboldened by its symbolic taking of the town of Avdiivka and the US Congress stalling on military aid for Ukraine.

Skip next section US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to reassure Zelenskyy on aid package
February 23, 2024

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to reassure Zelenskyy on aid package

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is visiting Ukraine on Friday. During the trip, he will seek to reassure President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and others that the US Congress will deliver another round of aid

The trip comes as a package that would provide $60 billion (€55 billion) to the country remains stalled in the US House of Representatives and at a perilous time for Ukraine.

Zelenskyy says delays in help from Washington and other Western allies have created an opening for Russia to advance on the battlefield. 

Ukrainian forces are reported to be running dangerously low on ammunition and weaponry.

Russia's defeat in Ukraine in US interest, ex-commander says

Lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties have traveled to Europe in the last week to vow that the United States will not abandon Ukraine and other European allies. 

While the Senate passed a $95 billion package of aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan last week, House Speaker Mike Johnson has not yet put forward the plan in the House.

Democratic Senator Schumer told the AP news agency that the US was not abandoning Ukraine.

"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."

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