Official: US to continue pace of sanctions on Russia over war in Ukraine

WASHINGTON: The United States is working with allies and partners to quickly impose severe economic costs on Moscow over "sham" referendums held by Russia in occupied regions of Ukraine, according to prepared remarks from the US State Department's head of sanctions coordination on Wednesday.

James O'Brien, in testimony prepared for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he expects that the Biden administration's pace of announcing sanctions on Russia on average every six weeks will continue, as Washington continues to focus on chokepoints in the Russian economy and its military supply chains.

"There will be more packages. We are working on more sanctions," O'Brien told the committee.

"Everything is on the table," he said, adding that Washington would look to the financial sector and high technology, especially for energy exploitation and human rights violators.

Moscow was poised on Wednesday to annex a swath of Ukraine, releasing what it called vote tallies showing support in four partially-occupied provinces to join Russia, after what Kyiv and the West denounced as illegal sham referendums held at gunpoint.

Russian-backed authorities claim to have carried out the referendums over five days on territory that makes up around 15 per cent of Ukraine.

The US has imposed several tranches of sanctions targeting Moscow following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February that has reduced cities to rubble and killed or wounded thousands.

"Arguably what you're doing is more important than what's happening on the battlefield. The kinds of things that you're doing are the ones that are going to bring Russia to heel," said Senator James Risch, the top Republican on the committee, of Washington's sanctions on Moscow. — REUTERS

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