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US promises 'severe costs' for anyone who supports Russia's annexations in Ukraine

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told a top Ukrainian official on Sunday that any individual or entity who supports Russia’s annexation of eastern regions of Ukraine will face “severe” consequences. 

Sullivan met Andriy Yermak, head of the office of Ukraine’s president, in Istanbul on Sunday, according to a statement from the White House, two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the annexation of four regions of eastern and southern Ukraine.

“Mr. Sullivan underscored the United States’ steadfast support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. He conveyed that the United States and its allies and partners will not be deterred by Russia’s flagrant violations of international law, including the United Nations Charter, and will impose severe costs on any individual, entity, or country that provides support to Russia’s purported annexation,” the statement said.

Russia’s annexation came eight months into the war, and was announced despite Ukraine making significant gains in some of the territories Russia now claims. The U.S. has said it will never recognize any of the areas as being Russian territory, and Ukraine has looked to use the declaration to rally international support to defeat Russia.

The White House added that Sullivan and Yermak also discussed the ongoing situation at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, which remains occupied by Russian forces, and UN-brokered efforts to export food from Ukraine’s ports.

“Mr. Sullivan emphasized the United States is committed to supporting the Ukrainian people as they defend their sovereignty and democracy, including via the $12 billion in additional assistance that President Biden recently signed into law,” the statement added. 

In response to Russia’s annexation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced last week that his country will file an expedited application to join NATO, arguing that it is already a “de facto” ally of countries in the alliance.

“We are de facto allies. This has already been achieved. De facto, we have already completed our path to NATO,” Zelensky said in his statement. “We trust each other, we help each other and we protect each other. This is what the Alliance is. De facto.”

However, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Sunday declined to commit to whether Ukraine’s application to join the alliance will be fast-tracked, saying its bid to join “needs to be taken by consensus.”

Source: The Hill

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