Biden administration imposes more sanctions on Russian oligarchs to make Vladimir Putin feel the burn

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The White House on Thursday announced a new wave of sanctions targeting Russian elites, oligarchs and their families, in an effort to further isolate Russia from international travel and financial systems as Russia wages war in Ukraine.

The sanctions target high-profile targets in Russia, including Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, whom the White House has called out for amplifying and spreading Putin’s propaganda, and Yevgeniy Prigozhin, or “the leader of Putin,” who ran the Russia Internet Research Agency, the Russian army of trolls that has worked to interfere in US elections for years. Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who had his yacht called “Dilbar” seized by Germany on Wednesday, is also sanctioned.

“We will not stop here. Our goal is to cripple the Russian economy and starve Putin’s war machine.”

The sanctions also target people working for large Russian companies that support the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“These individuals enriched themselves at the expense of the Russian people, and some elevated their family members to high-ranking positions,” a White House statement said of the sanctioned individuals. “Others sit at the top of Russia’s biggest companies and are tasked with providing the resources needed to support Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. These individuals and their family members will be cut off from the US financial system, their US assets will be frozen, and their property will be prohibited from use.

The Biden administration is also going after seven Russian entities and 26 individuals based in Russia and Ukraine who worked to spread Russian disinformation about Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

The Justice Department will use information about sanctioned oligarchs for criminal prosecution and asset seizure, according to the White House.

“The Treasury is committed to holding Russia’s elites accountable for supporting President Putin’s war of choice,” Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said of the sanctions. “Today, through the U.S. government and in coordination with our partners and allies, we are demonstrating our commitment to impose enormous costs on Putin’s closest confidants and their family members and to freeze their assets in response to the brutal attack on Ukraine.”

The news comes as Russia continues to bomb towns across Ukraine, and a day after Russia appeared to successfully capture the port city of Kherson. French President Emmanuel Macron said he expected the worst was yet to come after speaking with Putin on Thursday in a seemingly unsuccessful attempt to de-escalate.

The United States, the European Union and other allies have imposed crippling sanctions on Putin’s cronies and Putin himself in recent days to try to dissuade Putin from continuing his assault on Ukraine. The UK also announced additional sanctions on Thursday in an attempt to cut oligarchs from UK mansions worth tens of millions, including on Usmanov and former Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov.

“Sanctioning Usmanov and Shuvalov sends a clear message that we will hit the oligarchs and individuals closely associated with Putin’s regime and his barbaric war,” Foreign Minister Liz Truss said. “We will not stop here. Our goal is to cripple the Russian economy and starve Putin’s war machine.

Some of the Biden administration’s sanctions impose visa restrictions on Russian elites and their families, including 19 oligarchs and 47 family members and close associates.

“What we’re talking about here is seizing their assets, seizing their yachts, and making it harder for them to send, you know, their kids to western colleges and universities,” he said Thursday. White House press secretary Jen Psaki. “These are important steps that will impact those who are close to President Putin.”

Others affected by Biden administration sanctions on Thursday include Shuvalov; Nikolai Tokarev, the chairman of pipeline company Transneft; Boris Rotenberg, co-owner of SGM Group, a pipeline construction company, and his brother, billionaire Arkady Rotenberg; and Sergei Chemezov, CEO of a state conglomerate and former KGB.

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