U.S. imposes new sanctions on Russia, Putin’s daughters
The Biden administration on Wednesday imposed a fresh round of sanctions on two Russian banks and wealthy individuals, including President Vladimir Putin’s daughters, after revelations of atrocities in Ukraine, the White House announced.
The sweeping package, which was coordinated with the European Union and Group of 7, stiffens sanctions on state-owned Sberbank, Russia’s largest financial institution, and on Alfa Bank, the nation’s largest private bank. The Treasury Department on Thursday is expected to impose new and broad sanctions on some state-owned enterprises after blocking Russia from making debt payments with funds held at U.S. banks this week.
The measures also target Putin’s two daughters, Maria Putina and Katerina Tikhonova, as well as other members of the Russian elite, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s wife and daughter. Also sanctioned were Mikhail Mishustin, Russia’s prime minister, and Dmitry Medvedev, a former president and prime minister.
The U.S., EU and Britain move to put a greater squeeze on Moscow as Russia defiantly denies war crimes in Ukraine despite mounting evidence.
In a further effort to cripple Russia’s economy, President Biden signed an executive order prohibiting new investment in Russia by any U.S. person. Since the Kremlin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February, more than 600 multinational companies have already abandoned Russia.
The sanctions mark the latest escalation by Western allies to impose severe economic costs on Moscow for its attack and in retaliation for what a senior administration official described as the “sickening brutality in Bucha,” a Kyiv suburb where Ukrainian officials said they found the bodies of civilians after Russian forces withdrew.
Biden, who has vowed to hold Moscow accountable for committing “major war crimes,” declared Russia has “already failed in its initial war aims,” though the president has cautioned the war “is far from over.”
“We will keep raising the economic cost and ratchet up the pain for Putin and further increase Russia’s economic isolation,” he told labor union members at a conference Wednesday in Washington.
The latest economic penalties on Sberbank and Alfa Bank freeze any of their assets “touching” the U.S. financial system, a senior administration official said, and prohibit Americans and U.S. entities from doing business with either institution.
“This is the most severe action we can take in terms of financial measures,” said the administration official, who briefed reporters about the sanctions on condition of anonymity.
The measures allow for a continued carve-out for Russia’s oil and gas exports, in part because Europe relies heavily on those fossil fuels to power its economies. The administration official said allies are working to reduce their dependence on Russian energy.
Several tranches of sanctions imposed by the U.S. and European allies have blocked more than two-thirds of the Russian banking sector from the international financial system, according to the official.
The United Kingdom announced Wednesday that it was imposing similar sanctions on Moscow, including a freeze on the assets of major Russian banks and a ban on British investment in Russia. The European Union is expected to follow suit with a ban on coal imports from Russia as Western allies look to curb Moscow’s ability to generate revenue to finance the war. The coal imports are estimated to total $4.4 billion per year. European demand for that fossil fuel has declined in recent years.
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