The United States and its allies plan a major array of new sanctions against Russia for the Feb. 24 anniversary of its invasion of Ukraine, a senior US official said Thursday.

"You will see around the 24th a big new package of sanctions from both the US and all of our G7 partners," Victoria Nuland, the under secretary of state for political affairs, told reporters.

"These sanctions will deepen and broaden in certain categories where we have been active before, particularly in limiting the flow of technology to the Russian defense industry," she said.

Nuland said the package will also target individuals, expand banking restrictions and crack down on evasion of existing sanctions, including in third countries.

"We are seeing the Russians get quite clever -- everything from importing laptops and refrigerators through third countries, including sometimes our own countries, which they then strip-mine for chips and other things that go into their war machine," she said.

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President Joe Biden has led efforts by Western countries aimed at crushing the Russian economy over the invasion of Ukraine, notably by curbing the flow and payments for Russian oil and gas.

But the International Monetary Fund last month raised its forecast for Russia for the year to 0.3 percent growth from a projected contraction of 2.3 percent, with Russia adapting to sanctions and expanding trade with non-Western partners including China and India.

Nuland, long known for her fierce criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin, mocked Moscow's war efforts including its prolonged struggle to capture the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.

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"You see the war grinding in the east in Bakhmut. Russia has declared that it is launching a new offensive. Well, if this is it, it is very pathetic."

The head of Russia's Wagner mercenary outfit said Thursday that capturing the city could take months and blamed "monstrous bureaucracy" in Moscow for slowing military gains.

 

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