U.S. preps new effort to crack down on Russian sanctions evasion -official

  • World
  • Thursday, 14 Apr 2022

FILE PHOTO: U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks to the media about the war in Ukraine and other topics at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2022. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is preparing new efforts to crack down on sanctions evasion by Russia, President Joe Biden's national security adviser said on Thursday.

"Where our focus will be over the course of the coming days is on evasion," national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in an interview at the Economic Club of Washington.

"I think we'll have some announcements in the next week or two that identify targets that are trying to facilitate that evasion both inside Russia and beyond," Sullivan said, without giving details.

He also said that any efforts by Russia to disrupt weapons transfers benefiting Ukraine could escalate the standoff with the West.

"The United States is not operating inside the territory of Ukraine, so if the Russians, obviously, were to strike NATO territory, where materiel is being assembled, that would invoke Article 5 and would be a complete game changer."

Article 5 of the NATO charter says an attack on one member of the military alliance is an attack on all of its members. It has been invoked only once, after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Sullivan said an attack on a Russian missile cruiser claimed by Ukraine on Thursday had dealt a blow to Russia.

"We've been in touch with the Ukrainians overnight, who had said that they struck the ship with anti-ship missiles," he said. "We don't have the capacity at this point to independently verify that but certainly, the way this unfolded, it's a big blow to Russia."

Russia's defense ministry, however, said a fire had broken out on the missile cruiser Moskva, the flagship of its Black Sea fleet, after ammunition blew up on board, and did not mention an attack. Reuters was unable to verify either side's statements.

Sullivan declined to discuss whether any senior U.S. official would soon visit Kyiv, as leaders of other countries including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have recently done. He warned that fighting in Ukraine could go on for months or longer.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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