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How the United States is Holding Russia and Belarus to Account

Last updated: September 15, 2022

“President Putin may have assumed that the United States and our allies were bluffing when we warned of massive, unprecedented consequences. 
But – as President Biden likes to say – big nations can’t bluff. 
The United States doesn’t bluff. 
And President Putin has gravely miscalculated.” 

Antony J. Blinken
Secretary of State

The United States, along with its allies and partners, works to ensure the Russian Federation and the Lukashenka regime in Belarus pay a severe economic and diplomatic price for Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

With our allies and partners, we have taken these actions:

  • Applied powerful sanctions on Russia’s largest financial institutions and its sovereign wealth fund. 
  • Made it difficult for Russia to find funding for its war beyond its borders. 
  • Choked off Russian imports of key technologies. 
  • Targeted the financial networks and assets of Russian and Belarusian elites, including President Putin and members of his security council. 

There is nowhere for individuals or entities who support the unprovoked war to hide. We already see the effects of these actions, as the Russian and Belarusian economies stumble. With our allies and partners, we will continue to take strong economic and diplomatic actions. 

We are also working with partners, including the Ukrainian authorities and international institutions, to pursue justice and accountability for war crimes and other atrocities committed in Ukraine. We will use every tool available to promote accountability for these acts, including criminal prosecutions.

These U.S. actions, to date, hold Russia and Belarus to account. 

Sanctions 

Sweeping U.S. financial sanctions will impose costs on the Russian and Belarusian economies. Export controls and airspace restrictions will cut off Russia’s and Belarus’ access to vital technological inputs and atrophy their industrial base. These actions will undercut Russia’s and Belarus’ strategic ambitions to exert influence on the world stage.

Export and Import Controls 

The United States has imposed stringent export controls on Russia and on Belarus, which has helped enable Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

We continue to restrict Russian imports and exports, adding to and further tightening steps taken after Russia’s occupation of Crimea and invasion of the Donbas in 2014. Measures taken as a result of Putin’s recent actions include these: 

Visa Restrictions 

In order to promote accountability for human rights abuses and violations by the Russian Federation and the Lukashenka regime in Belarus, the United States has imposed a series of sanctions and visa restrictions. These actions target Russian and Belarusian officials, Russia’s proxy “authorities” in the parts of Ukraine it controls, and private individuals involved in human rights abuses, corruption and repression related to Putin’s premeditated and unjustified war against Ukraine and its people.

Private Sector Actions 

As President Biden said earlier this week, the United States welcomes the decisions of companies to exit Russia because they want no part of Putin’s war of choice against Ukraine. An unofficial list names hundreds of U.S. companies that will stop doing business in Russia.

Justice and Accountability

Based on information currently available, the U.S. government assesses that members of Russia’s forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine. As with any alleged crime, a court of law with jurisdiction over the crime is ultimately responsible for determining criminal guilt in specific cases. 

That is why we are supporting a range of mechanisms to document and promote justice and accountability for war crimes and other atrocities committed in Ukraine. This includes helping to build Ukraine’s domestic capacity by supporting the work of the War Crimes Units under the Office of the Ukrainian Prosecutor General. It includes supporting international investigative and accountability-related mechanisms, including the robust new UN Commission of Inquiry, which we helped create, to investigate human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by Russia’s forces. We joined 44 other OSCE countries in launching an Expert Mission, with Ukraine’s support, to examine reported human rights abuses or violations and violations of international humanitarian law, including possible war crimes, by Russia’s forces in Ukraine. And it includes supporting the important work of human rights documenters in Ukraine.  

We are committed to pursuing accountability for such acts using every tool available, including criminal prosecutions. 

U.S. Department of State

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