- White House has imposed new sanctions on 50 Russian oligarchs
- It include Kremlin press secretary, their families in latest attempt to target President Putin
- Biden said sanctions will target those who “line their pockets with the Russian people’s money”
The White House has imposed new sanctions on 50 Russian oligarchs, including Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskovt, and their families in the latest attempt to target President Vladimir Putin for ordering the invasion of Ukraine.
President Joe Biden said the sanctions will target those who “line their pockets with the Russian people’s money” as the Ukrainian people seek shelter from airstrikes. The new penalties will cut members of the Russian elite, their families and close associates, from the US financial system.
“Today, I’m announcing that we’re adding dozens of names to the list, including one of Russia’s wealthiest billionaires. I’m banning travel to America by more than 50 Russian oligarchs, their families, and their close associates,” Biden told reporters at the top of his Cabinet meeting at the White House on Thursday.
The US, he said, continues to impose very severe economic sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin and all those folks around him, choking off access to technology as well as cutting off access to the global financial system.
“It's had a profound impact already. And the goal was to maximise the impact on Putin and Russia and to minimise the harm on us and our allies and friends around the world. Our interest is in maintaining the strongest unified economic impact campaign on Putin in all of history, and I think we're well on the way to doing that,” Biden said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a statement announced the names of some of the wealthiest Russian elites close to Putin who has been subject to the latest sanctions. They are Alisher Usmanov, Boris Arkady, and Igor Rotenberg, and their family members and entities connected to them.
Among them is Dmitry Peskov, a prominent spokesperson for the Kremlin, as well as Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a wealthy Russian businessman known as “Putin’s chef”, NBC News reported.
“These actions also target influential Russian executives: Nikolai Tokarev, President of Transneft; Sergei Chemezov, CEO of Rostec; and Igor Shuvalov, Chairman of VEB.RF. These individuals, part of President Putin’s inner circle, have enriched themselves at the expense of the Russian people, and their support has facilitated Putin’s war of choice against Ukraine,” Blinken said.
In addition to them, 33 other Russian individuals were added to the sanctions list. The Department of State imposed substantial sanctions on 22 defence-related firms. “These far-reaching sanctions target entities that develop and produce fighter aircraft, infantry fighting vehicles, electronic warfare systems, missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles for Russia’s military. These sanctions strike at the core of Putin’s war machine,” Blinken said.
Further, the Department of Commerce also imposed export controls on oil and gas extraction equipment that support Russia’s refining capacity.
“Because a significant portion of the Russian government’s revenue comes from the sale of oil and gas, these actions will degrade Russia’s ability to raise revenue to support and sustain its military aggression. These measures also align U.S. export controls in this area with those of the European Union,” Blinken said.
Later in the day, Secretary of State Blinken spoke with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
“They discussed the remarkable resolve and actions taken by nations around the world to support the Government of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in the face of Putin’s war against Ukraine. They also discussed additional security, economic, and humanitarian support needs,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a readout of the call.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that “We don't have a strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy,” she said.
“That would raise prices at the gas pump for the American people, around the world, because it would reduce the supply available. It's as simple as less supply raises prices. That is certainly a big factor for the president at this moment. It also has the potential to pad the pockets of President Putin, which is exactly what we are not trying to do. So, as the president has said, we carved out payments for energy, trade, and transport from our financial sanctions with that in mind,” Psaki explained.
The US, she said, has been taking steps to degrade Russia's status as a leading energy supplier over time. That includes, of course, shutting down Nord Stream 2 or preventing Nord Stream 2 from operating.
“That's why we're surging LNG to Europe to help accelerate its diversification from Russian gas,” she said.
Meanwhile, the US said that with Ukraine’s agreement, 45 countries have invoked the OSCE Moscow Mechanism.
“This action will establish an expert mission to address our grave concerns regarding the humanitarian and human rights impacts on the people of Ukraine caused by Russia’s further invasion with the support of Belarus,” State Department Spokesperson, Ned Price said.
The OSCE expert mission, he said, will work impartially to establish the facts and circumstances surrounding possible contraventions of OSCE commitments and violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by Russia’s forces.
“The expert mission will prepare a report that will be shared with all OSCE participating States and relevant accountability mechanisms, including national, regional, and international courts and tribunals. The United States and our partners will hold Russia and its forces accountable for all human rights abuses, violations of international humanitarian law, war crimes, and crimes against humanity they committed in Ukraine,” Price said.
The UK also announced further sanctions against two Russian oligarchs on Thursday. The European Union announced this week that it would sanction more than two dozen prominent Russians.