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Russia says “harmful” sanctions would not damage Putin personally By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a gathering along with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi in Moscow, Russia January 19, 2022. Sputnik/Pavel Bednyakov/Pool by way of REUTERS

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By Dmitry Antonov and John Irish

MOSCOW/PARIS (Reuters) – Russia warned on Wednesday that imposing sanctions on President Vladimir Putin personally wouldn’t damage him however could be “politically harmful”, after U.S. President Joe Biden mentioned he would contemplate such a transfer if Russia invaded Ukraine.

Biden mentioned on Tuesday private sanctions on Putin, although a uncommon step, might be thought of as a part of a concerted drive by the US and its allies to persuade Moscow that any new aggression in opposition to Ukraine would deliver swift and large prices.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov mentioned U.S. Congressmen and senators discussing private sanctions in opposition to Russia’s high leaders had been blind to the very fact they had been legally barred from holding property, property and financial institution accounts overseas.

Particular person sanctions in opposition to Putin could be “not painful (however) politically harmful”, mentioned Peskov, who has beforehand mentioned they’d quantity to severing diplomatic relations.

As officers started four-nation talks in Paris, Russia held new army drills on land and sea and moved extra paratroops and fighter jets to Belarus, north of Ukraine, for what it describes as joint workouts there subsequent month.

Ukraine mentioned Russia, which has gathered tens of hundreds of troops close to its border however denied plans to invade, was attempting to sow panic. Overseas Minister Dmytro Kuleba mentioned Moscow had not but massed ample forces for a large-scale offensive, however that didn’t imply it couldn’t accomplish that later.

Almost eight years after Russia seized Crimea and backed separatist fighters in Donbass in japanese Ukraine, the previous Soviet republic has develop into the flashpoint in doubtlessly essentially the most harmful East-West confrontation because the Chilly Warfare.

Russia says the disaster is being pushed by NATO and U.S. actions, and is demanding safety ensures from the West, together with a promise by NATO by no means to confess Ukraine. Moscow sees Ukraine as a buffer between Russia and NATO international locations.

Western allies have threatened financial sanctions in opposition to Russia if it assaults Ukraine, and the US has been speaking to main energy-producing international locations and firms around the globe over a possible diversion of provides to Europe https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/us-talks-with-energy-producers-supply-europe-if-russia-invades-ukraine-2022-01-25 if Russia invades Ukraine.

The EU will depend on Russia for round a 3rd of its gasoline provides. Any interruptions to its Russian imports would exacerbate an present vitality disaster https://www.reuters.com/enterprise/vitality/could-more-lng-supplies-get-europe-event-crisis-2022-01-25 brought on by shortages.

‘NORMANDY’ TALKS

In Paris, officers from France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine started talks on the simmering Donbass warfare by which some 15,000 folks have been killed since 2014.

Andriy Yermak, chief of employees to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, referred to as the talks “a powerful sign in direction of reaching peace in japanese Ukraine”.

However he mentioned main ceasefire violations had been happening, and dominated out the prospect of talking on to the separatists.

The four-way “Normandy format” talks, which haven’t been held for greater than six months, are seen by the European powers as important to remaining related within the broader dialogue with Moscow whereas the US and NATO maintain separate disaster negotiations.

French officers mentioned they hoped that some progress might be made that might assist the broader efforts to cut back tensions.

A French presidential official mentioned the purpose was to set a date for talks on humanitarian measures and prisoner releases that might then result in negotiations on the way forward for the Donbass area. Nevertheless, he mentioned the truth was that they’d use the Paris talks to find out whether or not Russia was severe.

“Both President Putin will search most stress with us, which implies it will likely be very troublesome to progress within the Normandy talks, or he assesses that on this nice interval of volatility, it is helpful to make use of this format to cut back tensions.”

Interfax information company quoted the Russian defence ministry as saying it a paratrooper unit had been deployed to Belarus on Wednesday, a day after transferring in artillery forces and marines forward of joint workouts subsequent month.

It mentioned Russia was additionally transferring Su-35 fighter jets to Belarus for the “Allied Resolve” workouts.

The buildup of Russian forces in Belarus, an in depth Russian ally and former Soviet republic north of Ukraine, creates a brand new entrance for a doable assault.

RIA information company mentioned greater than 20 Russian vessels had launched into workouts within the Black Sea, south of Ukraine.

Individually, Russian artillery forces within the southern Rostov area that borders Ukraine had been set to observe firing on Wednesday as a part of a fight readiness inspection of the Southern Army District, the Defence Ministry mentioned.

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