The U.S. has enacted further sanctions to deter Russian attacks on Ukraine as President Joe Biden’s administration seeks additional emergency funding from Congress to aid the Ukrainian people.
Per Reuters, of the $32.5 billion requested, $10 billion is being sought for emergency military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine, according to the acting director of the Office and Management of Budget (OMB), Shalanda Young. The emergency spending bill is expected by March 11.
On March 3, the U.S. announced new sanctions against Russian elite members and said it would bar nineteen oligarchs and forty-seven of their relatives and close associates from visiting the U.S., ABC News reported.
According to the White House, the U.S. will sanction Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, as well as Alisher Usmanov, one of Russia’s wealthiest men.
Sanctions against the Russian economy and Russian President Vladimir Putin himself have been imposed by the U.S., Canada, and countries across Europe.
Meanwhile, Putin has warned Ukraine that it must accept the Kremlin’s demand for “demilitarization” as soon as possible and declare itself neutral, thereby formally abandoning its NATO membership bid, New York NBC 4 reported.
The Russian president has long claimed that Ukraine’s move toward the West poses a threat to Moscow, which he used to justify the invasion of Ukraine last week.
French President Emmanuel Macron had a 90-minute phone conversation with Putin on March 3, after which he expressed the belief that “the worst is yet to come,” France24 reported.
On March 3, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, speaking on television to his country members, had a message for Putin:
“You will repay everything you did against Ukraine — in full, and we will not forget those who perished — and God won’t,” he said.
More than 2,000 civilians have died, according to Ukraine’s State Emergency Service, though this claim could not be verified. Since the invasion began on February 24, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has recorded 801 people injured and 406 dead, including twenty-seven children under the age of 18, as of March 6.
The latest figures from the United Nations High Commissioner (UNHCR) for Refugees show more than one million people have been forced to flee Ukraine since Russian forces invaded on February 24.
According to UNHCR statistics, more than half of the Ukrainian refugees are in Poland.
“In just seven days, 1 million people have fled Ukraine, uprooted by this senseless war,” UNHCR Commissioner Filippo Grandi said on March 3. “I have worked in refugee emergencies for almost 40 years, and rarely have I seen an exodus as rapid as this one.”
Moscow has also been condemned by the U.S. State Department for alleged censorship. The Department claims that Russia is “engaged in a full assault on media freedom and the truth, and Moscow’s efforts to mislead and suppress the truth of the brutal invasion are intensifying.”
“The Russian people did not choose this war; Putin did,” said Ned Price, a State Department spokesman. “They have a right to know about the death, suffering and destruction being inflicted by their government on the people of Ukraine. The people of Russia also have a right to know about the human costs of this senseless war to their own soldiers.”
The announcement came just 24 hours after the Russian government shut down Dozhd TV and Radio Ekho Moskvy, Russia’s only two major independent news outlets, accusing them of spreading “false information” about Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russian officials, including Putin, maintain that invading was necessary.
On March 7, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia invaded Ukraine to prevent a separate war in the eastern European country, Yahoo News reports.
“The goal of Russia’s special military operation is to stop any war that could take place on Ukrainian territory, or that could start from there,” Lavrov said, according to a tweet from the Russian Embassy in London.