U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned in remarks made Wednesday countries that are unified in their sanctions against Russia “will not be indifferent to actions that undermine the sanctions we’ve put in place.”

Yellen said the “unprecedented suite of financial sanctions and export controls” imposed against Russia by the United States, along with more than 30 other countries representing more than half the world’s economy, have “redrawn the contours of the world economic outlook,” including “international cooperation going forward.”

“By joining together, we demonstrate that these sanctions are not motivated by any one country’s foreign policy objectives,” she said. “Rather, we are acting in support of our principles—our opposition to aggression, to widespread violence against civilians, and in alignment with our commitment to a rules-based global order that protects peace and prosperity.”

Yellen further remarked that U.S. Treasury’s “technical work to target, monitor, and enforce sanctions” is being “reinforced by other experts around the world.” Such efforts include the launch of “a novel taskforce of law enforcement and finance ministry leaders from G7 and partner countries to advance our efforts,” she said.

That multilateral task force targeting Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs (REPO) consists of “Finance Ministry and Justice or Home Ministry in each member jurisdiction, each committed to using their respective authorities in concert with other appropriate ministries to collect and share information to take concrete actions, including sanctions, asset freezing, and civil and criminal asset seizure, and criminal prosecution,” according to the Treasury.

Among the task force’s successes, to date, is the provision of information “by U.S. law enforcement to foreign partners” that has “contributed to the restraint of multiple vessels controlled by sanctioned individuals and entities,” estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, Treasury stated. 

“Together, we are learning how to be more effective,” Yellen said in her remarks. “We are creating new habits of cooperation, trust, and goodwill that create positive spillovers across the entirety of our relationship.”

Countries ‘sitting on the fence’

“While many countries have taken a unified stand against Russia’s actions and many companies have quickly and voluntarily severed business relationships with Russia, some countries and companies have not,” Yellen added.

She called the motivations of countries “currently sitting on the fence, perhaps seeing an opportunity to gain by preserving their relationship with Russia and backfilling the void left by others” as being “short-sighted.”

The war in Ukraine and global sanctions against Russia highlight China’s pivotal role, specifically, Yellen remarked. “Whatever China’s geopolitical aims and strategies, we see no benign interpretation of Russia’s invasion, nor of its consequences for the international order,” she said.

“China cannot expect the global community to respect its appeals to the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity in the future if does not respect these principles now when it counts,” Yellen added.

Citing China’s “special relationship with Russia,” Yellen said she hopes the Far East nations can “make something positive of this relationship and help to end this war.”

“Going forward, it will be increasingly difficult to separate economic issues from broader considerations of national interest, including national security,” she added. “The world’s attitude towards China and its willingness to embrace further economic integration may well be affected by China’s reaction to our call for resolute action on Russia.”