US targets Putin’s daughters and Russian banks in new sanctions – GV Wire
The United States announced on Wednesday sanctions targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters and said he was toughening sanctions on Russian banks in retaliation for “war crimes” in Ukraine. The UK has stepped up asset freezes against two major banks, banned British investment in Russia and pledged to end dependence on Russian coal and oil by the end of the year.
The European Union was also expected to take additional measures soon, including a ban on new investment in Russia and a coal embargo, after recent evidence of atrocities emerged following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the town of Bucha.
Family assets frozen in the United States
The United States has acted against two of Russia’s largest banks, Sberbank and Alfa Bank, banning assets from passing through the American financial system and banning Americans from doing business with these two institutions.
In addition to sanctions targeting Putin’s adult daughters, Mariya Putina and Katerina Tikhonova, the United States targets Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin; the wife and children of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov; and members of the Russian Security Council, including Dmitry Medvedev, former president and prime minister.
The sanctions cut off all close members of Putin’s family from the US financial system and freeze any assets they hold in the United States.
President Joe Biden has said the latest round of sanctions will be “devastating”.
“I have made it clear that Russia will pay a severe and immediate price for its atrocities in Bucha,” Biden said in a tweet.
New ban prohibits US investment in Russia
Biden was expected to sign an executive order that would bar Americans from further investment in Russia, wherever they live. The US Treasury Department is preparing new sanctions against Russian state-owned companies, according to the White House.
Britain announced asset freezes targeting Sberbank and the Credit Bank of Moscow and named eight Russian oligarchs that Putin, it says, is “using to prop up his wartime economy”.
“Together with our allies, we are showing the Russian elite that they cannot wash their hands of the atrocities committed on Putin’s orders,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said.
Britain had already announced a plan to phase out Russian oil, which accounts for 8% of Britain’s supply. Russia is the UK’s main supplier of imported coal, although UK demand for the dirty fuel has fallen over the past decade.
Britain has not halted imports of Russian natural gas, which accounts for 4% of its supply, saying only that it will do so “as soon as possible”.
Videos and images of bodies on the streets of Bucha after it was recaptured from Russian forces have sparked outrage among Western allies, who have crafted new sanctions in response.
Europe proposes Russian coal ban
The European Commission’s proposed ban on coal imports would be the first EU sanction aimed at Russia’s lucrative energy industry over its war in Ukraine.
EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said energy was key to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war chests.
“A billion euros is what we pay Putin every day for the energy he has provided us since the start of the war. We gave him 35 billion euros. Compare that to the billion we gave Ukraine in guns and arms,” Borrell said.
The steady escalation of sanctions is less a sign of their shortcomings than mounting pressure on Russia as it seeks foreign investment and commodities, Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, told reporters. , during a Wednesday breakfast. “We need to be patient and step back when it comes to the impacts on Russia of this unprecedented and crippling sanctions regime,” Deese said at the event sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.
Deese noted that Russian inflation is 2% per week, which would push annual inflation above 200% per year. He noted that the Biden administration expects Russian prices to ultimately rise no more than 200% this year.
While the White House said Russia should not attend the G-20 meeting in Indonesia in November, it noted that it could leave the organization anyway because its economy has shrunk dramatically.
Russian diplomats expelled
After several European countries announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats, the European Commission proposed a fifth sanctions package including a coal import ban that could be passed once unanimously approved by ambassadors from the 27-nation bloc .
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the coal ban was worth 4 billion euros ($4.4 billion) a year and the EU had already started working on additional sanctions , especially on oil imports.
She did not mention natural gas, with consensus among the 27 EU countries on targeting the fuel used to generate electricity and heat hard-to-secure homes amid opposition from dependent members of the gas like Germany, the largest economy in the bloc.
But European Council President Charles Michel said the bloc should keep up the pressure on the Kremlin, suggesting a gas import embargo might also be required at some point in the future.
“The new package includes a ban on coal imports,” Michel said on Wednesday. “I think that action on oil, and even gas, will also be needed, sooner or later.”
The new package of measures proposed by the commission also includes sanctions against more individuals and against four major Russian banks, including VTB, Russia’s second largest bank. The bloc would also ban Russian vessels and Russian-operated vessels from EU ports.
New targeted export bans worth €10 billion in sectors covering quantum computers, advanced semiconductors, sensitive machinery and transport equipment have also been proposed.
“I appreciate the strengthening of the 5th EU sanctions package: ban on Russian coal, ships accessing EU ports and road carriers,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter. “But it will take a gas/oil embargo and the de-SWIFT of all Russian banks to stop Putin. Tough times require tough decisions.
Western allies have already cut off several Russian banks from the SWIFT financial messaging system, which moves countless billions of dollars daily through more than 11,000 banks and other financial institutions around the world.