US promises ‘severe costs’ for anyone who supports Russia’s annexation of Ukraine

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told a top Ukrainian official on Sunday that any person or entity that supports Russia’s annexation of regions in eastern and southern Ukraine will face “severe” consequences.

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

“Mr. Sullivan emphasized 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 anyone who entity or country providing support for Russia’s alleged annexation,” the statement said.

Russia’s annexation came eight months into the war and was announced despite Ukraine making significant progress in some of the areas Russia now claims. The United States has said it will never recognize any of the areas as Russian territory, and Ukraine has sought 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 nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, which remains occupied by Russian forces, and UN-brokered efforts to export food from Ukraine’s ports.

“Mr. Sullivan emphasized that the United States is committed to supporting the Ukrainian people as they defend their sovereignty and democracy, including through the $12 billion in additional aid 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 submit an accelerated 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. That is what the Alliance is . De facto.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Sunday declined to commit to speeding up Ukraine’s application to join the alliance, saying “any decision on membership must be made by consensus.”

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