The U.S. Secret Service announced Tuesday that criminals used fraudulent COVID-19 relief applications and other means to steal nearly $100 billion in pandemic benefits.

Secretary Of State Announces Additional Measures Against Russian Financial System

On Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, announced additional measures against Russia’s financial system.

“In coordination with our allies and partners, the United States is taking further measures today against the Russian financial system in response to Russia’s continuing premeditated war against Ukraine.  Unwavering in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, we will continue to act with our allies and partners in imposing costs on Russia if it continues its war of choice,” said Blinken.

“The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has prohibited any U.S. person from conducting any transaction involving the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation, or the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation. In addition, OFAC imposed blocking sanctions on the Russian Direct Investment Fund, a known slush fund for President Putin and his inner circle, two of its subsidiaries, and CEO Kirill Dmitriev,” Blinken added.

“We took today’s actions to impair Russia’s ability to use its international reserves in ways that undermine the impact of our sanctions, as well as to prevent Russia from accessing its wealth fund for use in its ongoing war against Ukraine.

“The United States will continue to coordinate closely with our partners and allies to impose severe consequences on Russia for its war against Ukraine.  We share with our partners and allies unity of purpose, resolve, and determination to hold Russia to account for its aggression, particularly those responsible for this war of choice,” concluded Blinken.

These measures comes after the State Department announced ‘voluntary departures from the US Embassy in Moscow.

The United States has suspended operations in Belarus and authorized departures from the US Embassy in Moscow on Monday.

“The U.S. Department of State has suspended operations at our Embassy in Minsk, Belarus, and authorized the voluntary departure (“authorized departure”) of non-emergency employees and family members at our Embassy in Moscow, Russia,” said Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State.

“We took these steps due to security and safety issues stemming from the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine.  The Department of State continually adjusts its posture at embassies and consulates throughout the world in line with its mission, the local security environment, and the health situation,” said Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State.

“We ultimately have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens, and that includes our U.S. government personnel and their dependents serving around the world,” Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State.

These moves come as delegations from Ukraine and Russia are meeting in Belarus.

Delegations from Ukraine and Russia met on Monday morning in an attempt to negotiate a ceasefire, as Russia’s stock exchange remains closed and the Ruble plummets.

European nations and Canada said on Sunday they would close their airspace to Russian aircraft and, in an unprecedented move, the European Union said it plans to finance the purchase and delivery of weapons to Ukraine.

In response to increasing economic sanctions, Russian President Putin has placed Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert.

“The Ukrainian delegation arrived in the area of ​​the Ukrainian-Belarusian border to take part in talks with representatives of the Russian Federation,” said the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.

The delegation included David Arahamiya, Servant of the People faction, Oleksiy Reznikov, Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Mykhailo Podoliak, Adviser to the Head of the Presidential Office, Andriy Kostin, First Deputy Head of the Ukrainian Delegation to the Tripartite Contact Group, Rustem Umerov, MP, and Mykola Tochytsky.

“The key issue of the talks is an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops from Ukraine,” said the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.

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