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Biden puts sanctions on Russian banks and elites over Ukraine invasion

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(Last Updated On: February 23, 2022)

US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday the United States was imposing a first tranche of sanctions against Russia for launching an invasion of Ukraine and promised that more would come if there are further incursions.

Biden, speaking to reporters at the White House, said the United States would impose sanctions against two large Russian financial institutions and Russian sovereign debt. Sanctions were imposed against Russian elites and their family members as well, administration officials said, Reuters reported.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Monday told Russia’s defense ministry to deploy what he called peacekeeping forces into two breakaway regions of Ukraine after recognizing them as independent, raising fears of imminent war in Europe.

“This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Biden said. “Russia has now undeniably moved against Ukraine by declaring these independent states.”

The United States had promised severe sanctions against Russia if it invaded Ukraine, which the White House previously defined as any movement of troops across the border, Reuters reported.

The United States deployed its most powerful sanctioning tool, placing Russian elites and two banks on the Specially Designated Nationals list, effectively kicking them out of the U.S. banking system, banning them from trading with Americans, and freezing their U.S. assets.

Biden said the sanctions in the initial tranche applied to VEB bank and Russia’s military bank – Promsvyazbank, which does defense deals. He said the sanctions against Russia’s sovereign debt meant the Russian government would be cut off from Western financing.

“As Russia contemplates its next move, we have our next move prepared as well,” Biden said. “Russia will pay an even steeper price if it continues its aggression, including additional sanctions.”

Biden said the United States would continue to provide “defensive assistance” to Ukraine but had no intention of fighting Russia. He said he authorized additional movements of U.S. forces already stationed in Europe to strengthen Baltic allies Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Reuters reported.

On Monday a senior administration official said Russia sending troops to the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine did not represent a further invasion because Russia had troops there previously. But on Tuesday, White House officials changed their language to say an invasion had begun.

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Saudi Arabia, US prepare for bilateral Native Fury 22 drill in Yanbu, Al-Kharj 

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(Last Updated On: August 10, 2022)

Saudi and US marine corps arrived in Yanbu on Tuesday ahead of the planned bilateral Native Fury 22 drill maneuvers, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. 

The exercises are set to take place this week in Yanbu and Al-Kharj and will last for several days, according to SPA. 

The drills are aimed at enhancing the partnership between Saudi forces and their US counterparts when carrying out bilateral plans, SPA said. 

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FBI searches Trump’s Florida home as part of presidential records probe

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(Last Updated On: August 9, 2022)

Former US president Donald Trump said FBI agents raided his Mar-a-Lago estate on Monday and broke into his safe in what his son acknowledged was part of an investigation into Trump’s removal of official presidential records from the White House to his Florida resort.

The unprecedented search of a former president’s home would mark a significant escalation into the records investigation, which is one of several probes Trump is facing from his time in office and in private business. 

The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment on the search, which Trump in a statement called a raid and said involved a “large group of FBI agents.” The FBI’s headquarters in Washington and its field office in Miami both declined comment, Reuters reported.

Eric Trump, one of the former president’s adult children, told Fox News the search concerned boxes of documents that Trump brought with him from the White House, and that his father has been cooperating with the National Archives on the matter for months.

A source familiar with the matter also confirmed to Reuters the raid appeared to be tied to Trump’s removal of classified records from the White House.

“After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate,” Trump said, adding: “They even broke into my safe!”

Trump was not present at the time as he was in New York on Monday, Fox News Digital reported, publishing a photo of Trump that a Fox reporter said showed him leaving Trump Tower.

Trump, who has made his club in Palm Beach his home since leaving the White House in January 2021, has generally spent summers at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, because Mar-a-Lago typically closes for the summer.

A federal law called the U.S. Presidential Records Act requires the preservation of memos, letters, notes, emails, faxes and other written communications related to a president’s official duties.

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China continues military drills around Taiwan

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(Last Updated On: August 8, 2022)

China’s military said on Monday it is continuing drills in the seas and skies around Taiwan.

The Eastern Theater Command of China’s People’s Liberation Army said on social media Weibo that it will practice conducting anti-submarine attacks and sea raids, Reuters reported.

The military has carried out an unprecedented set of naval and air force drills in areas near Taiwan following U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island last week.

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