US hits China with sweeping sanctions over support for Russia’s war in Ukraine

The US has sanctioned nearly 300 companies and individuals from China, Russia, and several other countries for allegedly supporting Russia’s defence industry and helping it evade American sanctions over the war in Ukraine.

The US Department of the Treasury said on Wednesday that it had imposed sanctions on nearly 200 entities and the State Department on more than 80 to “degrade Russia’s ability to sustain its war machine” in Ukraine.

The sanctioned entities, located in Azerbaijan, Belgium, China, Russia, Turkey, the UAE and Slovakia, have allegedly enabled Russia to "acquire desperately needed technology and equipment from abroad”.

The sanctions came after treasury secretary Janet Yellen and secretary of state Antony Blinken made trips to China to sound alarm over what they described as Beijing’s commercial support for Russia’s defence industry that has helped Moscow sustain its war in Ukraine.

Among the Chinese companies implicated are Finder Technology, headquartered in Hong Kong, which is alleged to have exported 293 consignments of drone components and electronics to Russia, the Treasury Department announced.

Juhang Aviation Technology Shenzhen Co is accused of supplying Russia with drone propellers, signal jammers, sensors and engines. Zhongcheng Heavy Equipment Defense Technology Group Co Ltd is accused of providing equipment to the paramilitary Wagner Group.

"Treasury has consistently warned that companies will face significant consequences for providing material support for Russia’s war and the US is imposing them today on almost 300 targets," Ms Yellen said.

For the first time, the Department of Treasury sanctioned importers of cotton cellulose and nitrocellulose which serve as the main precursors that Russia needs to produce gunpowder, rocket propellants and other explosives.

Ms Yellen claimed that the new sanctions combined with America’s additional funding for Ukraine will provide Kyiv with a “critical leg-up on the battlefield”.

Ukrainian workers install anti-tank ‘dragon teeth’ as they construct new defensive positions in Kharkiv region (AP)
Ukrainian workers install anti-tank ‘dragon teeth’ as they construct new defensive positions in Kharkiv region (AP)

Ms Yellen had warned during her visit to Beijing on 8 April that corporations or individuals facilitating transactions for “dual-use goods to Russia’s defence industrial base” will expose them “to the risk of US sanctions”.

The Department of State imposed sanctions on four Chinese companies that it accused of supporting Russia’s defence industry, including by shipping critical components to Russian entities sanctioned by the US, as well as companies in Turkey, Kyrgyzstan and Malaysia that it accused of shipping high priority items to Moscow.

A Ukrainian soldier instals a national flag on a grassed area at the Independence square in Kyiv (AP)
A Ukrainian soldier instals a national flag on a grassed area at the Independence square in Kyiv (AP)

It also expanded sanctions to target Russia’s ability to ship liquefied natural gas, or LNG, one of the country’s top exports. It designated a vessel operator based in Singapore and another in Hong Kong for working with Russia’s Arctic LNG 2 project.

The department also targeted subsidiaries of Russia’s state nuclear power company, Rosatom, as well as 12 entities within the Sibanthracite group of companies, one of Russia’s largest producers of metallurgical coal.

Popular budget airline Pobeda, a subsidiary of Russian airline Aeroflot, was also sanctioned.

Sanctions imposed last month by the US on Arctic LNG 2 reportedly compelled Novatek, Russia’s leading LNG producer, to halt production at the project due to a lack of tankers available to transport the fuel.

The State Department also sanctioned three persons allegedly linked to the death in prison of the Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny.

The Russian foreign ministry hasn’t commented on the development yet.

Russian ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov told Tass news agency that “Russia and the Russians cannot be intimidated by such decisions”.

The new American sanctions against Russia only serve to further doubts about Washington’s ability to play a constructive role in the world’s affairs, Mr Antonov added.

“Local officials do not realize that these illegitimate tricks only scare other states away. In fact, they fertilize doubts about the constructiveness of America’s current role in the world,” he said.

The Chinese embassy in Washington said Beijing oversees the export of dual-use materials in accordance with laws and regulations, adding that normal trade and economic interactions between China and Russia are in line with World Trade Organization rules and market principles.

“The Chinese side firmly opposes the USA’s illegal unilateral sanctions,” Liu Pengyu, spokesperson for the embassy, said.