US hits Russia with more sanctions - but Ukraine has every reason to feel abandoned

ITV News Correspondent Robert Moore reports from Washington DC, after US president Joe Biden announced a fresh wave of sanctions against Russia

It certainly sounded impressive. On Friday, the US announced a wave of new sanctions against 500 Russian individuals and companies. The idea is to weaken Moscow's military-industrial complex. But in reality many of the sanctions are symbolic. After all, if the US Treasury really thought these sanctions would be effective in tilting the battlefield in Ukraine's favour they would have been tried two years ago. So don't expect the new measures to make much difference despite the rhetoric coming from the White House. The far more radical financial step that would certainly change the equation is too controversial - legally and politically - to be imposed. At least, for now.

That is the proposal to seize the $300 billion of Russian sovereign assets overseas - currently frozen in European banks - and handing that vast sum of money to Ukraine to use for the war effort. Advocates of this "nuclear" option say it would be morally justified. It would be using Russian assets to repair the very country that Moscow is seeking to destroy. But Washington is not ready to go there. Not yet. Many observers suggest it wouldn't actually be legal, and would set a precedent that would ultimately backfire on America.

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What the White House insists is a much better solution in the short-term is for Congress to approve the latest $60 billion military support package. That would address the immediate problem on Ukraine's front line - a shortage of ammunition and long-range weaponry. That paralysis in Congress points to the real problem that faces Ukraine. Deadlock on the battlefield is matched by deadlock in Washington.

Trump's Republicans don't want to send billions of dollars to Ukraine. They want that money to spend on securing America's own borders - an issue they hope they can use to win November's presidential election. So after two years of brutal fighting this is an inglorious moment for the West. Ukraine is running short of military supplies and is struggling mightily to hold back Russian advances. America is already absorbed in pre-election political skirmishes, and Congress is a broken institution. The US position in supporting Israel's war on Gaza is, in the eyes of many people around the world, diminishing America's moral standing. And even the sanctions that have been imposed are failing to damage a resilient Russian economy that is being stimulated by vast domestic military spending and energy deals with non-Western countries. It's a mess. And if morale is plummeting among Ukraine's frontline units, it's easy to understand why.

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