Russia's invasion of Ukraine last week resulted in major economic sanctions from Western countries, which are already causing severe disruption to Russia's economy and its citizens.
Following Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement last week that he would recognize the independence of the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, President Joe Biden has imposed new sanctions that go beyond beyond what the United States imposed on Russia in 2014 after the annexation of Russia. Crimean peninsula.
On February 21, Biden issued an executive order severely restricting trade with Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The next day, he announced new sanctions against two major Russian banks, VEB and the Russian military bank PSB. Biden also said the United States would ban the secondary market in Russian bonds issued after March 1, which would prevent the country from raising funds from the West. Chancellor Olaf Scholz, under pressure from the United States and other world leaders, said on February 22 that Germany would stop certifying the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2, which would double the flow of Russian gas to Germany.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has joined the United States in what he called a "first round" of sanctions targeting five Russian banks and three billionaires from Putin's inner circle. The European Union has imposed sanctions on 351 members of the lower house of the Russian legislature who voted to recognize the independence of the two breakaway regions of Ukraine.
On Feb. 24, after Russia continued its invasion of Ukraine, Biden tightened the screw further, blocking technology exports to Russia to limit its military and aerospace sectors and adding additional targeted sanctions against Russian banks. The move will target all of Russia's largest financial institutions, which account for 80% of all banking assets in the country, and nearly 90 subsidiaries of financial institutions worldwide, according to the US Treasury Department.
"The Treasury Department is taking serious and unprecedented action to inflict swift and severe consequences on the Kremlin and severely impede its ability to use the Russian economy and financial system to further its nefarious activities," Treasury Secretary Janet said. L. Yellen in a press release.
On Monday, the US, UK, Canada and the European Commission took further action against Russia's financial system by removing some Russian banks from the Society for Global Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT), through which 11,000 financial institutions around the world send secure messages for financial transactions. They also restricted the Bank of Russia's access to most of its reserves - $643 billion in foreign currency - to make it harder for the country to soften the blow from the sanctions.
Also on Monday, investors got involved by sending the Russian currency, the ruble, into the doldrums. Within hours, it lost a quarter of its value and is now worth less than a US penny. To control the situation, Russia's central bank more than doubled a key interest rate, banned foreigners from selling Russian securities and ordered exporters to convert foreign currency earnings into rubles.
Financial instability has caused Russians to line up at banks to withdraw their savings. Due to the dizzying fall in the value of the ruble, millions of Russians have lost much of their net worth.
There were also long queues on the Moscow metro as passengers searched for cash to buy tickets after Apple Pay and Google Pay stopped working in the country.