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Putin Widens Offense in Ukraine As U.S. Imposes New Trade Bans On Russian Alcohol and Seafood

Putin Widens Offense in Ukraine As U.S. Imposes New Trade Bans On Russian Alcohol and Seafood

Putin widened his army’s offensive in Ukraine on Friday, striking airfields in the west and a major industrial city in the east, while the huge line of armed tanks that had been stalled for over a week outside Kyiv appeared to have spread out near the capital. In response to Putin’s refusal to end his invasion of their peaceful neighbor, the U.S. and other Western countries have crippled the Russian economy in a matter of days with sanctions and bans on Russian imports that have brought the country to a near standstill.

President Joe Biden announced Friday the U.S. will dramatically downgrade its trade status with Russia as punishment for its invasion of Ukraine and also now ban imports of Russian seafood, alcohol, and diamonds. The President also warned Putin that there would be further retaliation if Ukraine is targeted with chemical weapons, a possibility that administration officials have warned about in recent days. “The free world is coming together to confront Putin,” President Biden said.

President Biden’s changes on Russia’s trade status come as bipartisan pressure has been building in Washington to revoke what is formally known as “permanent normal trade relations” with Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pressed the U.S. and allies to take the action against Russia in remarks to Congress over the weekend. It follows days after the Biden moved to ban imports of Russian oil and gas products.

So far, the Russians have made the biggest advances on cities in the east and south — including in Mariupol, the heavily bombarded seaport where civilians scrounged for food and fuel amid a harrowing 10-day-old siege — while struggling in the north and around Kyiv. On Friday, Putin’s forces continued to launch airstrikes in urban areas such as Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Mariupol, while also pounding targets away from the main battle zones.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said lawmakers would pass legislation to formalize the trade downgrade. “Putin’s premeditated, unprovoked war is an attack on the Ukrainian people and an attack on democracy — and the House remains steadfast in our commitment to partnering with President Biden and our allies to level swift, severe punishment and stand with the Ukrainian people,” she said.

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