Biden administration imposes new sanctions on Putin’s daughters and Russian banks

By Betsy Klein, Kevin Liptak and Kaitlan Collins, CNN

The United States on Wednesday announced new sanctions against Russian financial institutions and individuals, including the two adult daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a bid to increase economic pressure on Russia and Putin himself following gruesome images from the Ukrainian town of Bucha.

The United States also announced sanctions against the wife and daughter of Putin’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“Today we are significantly compounding the financial shock by imposing full blocking sanctions on Russia’s largest financial institution, Sberbank, and its largest private bank, Alfa Bank,” a senior administration official said. to journalists.

CNN reported on Tuesday that the sanctions would come in coordination with the Group of 7 nations and the European Union.

The United States is targeting Putin’s two adult daughters because it believes the Russian president may be hiding some of his assets from them, according to the senior administration official.

Without specifying which Putin assets might be hiding with Mariya Putina and Katerina Tikhonova, the official said the practice was common among Russia’s elite.

“We have reason to believe that Putin and many of his cronies and the oligarchs are hiding their wealth, hiding their assets, with family members who have placed their assets and wealth in the US financial system, but also in many other parts of the world,” the official said.

“That’s why the coordination, the coordinated efforts to freeze their assets and seize their physical luxuries – their cars, their yachts, their homes, etc. – that’s why it’s so important that we act together,” he said. added the manager.

The latest sanctions also target the Russian financial sector, a priority target for Western governments.

Sberbank owns almost a third of the total assets of the Russian banking sector, the official noted, adding that the United States has now fully blocked “more than two-thirds of the Russian banking sector”.

The senior official announced a ban on new investments in Russia which will be executed in alignment with the G7 and the EU. The ban will be implemented by an executive order signed by President Joe Biden.

Members of the Russian Security Council, including former Russian President and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, are also targeted by individual sanctions. The United States has already sanctioned more than 140 oligarchs and their family members and more than 400 Russian government officials, the senior official said.

The United States will also apply full lockdown sanctions on key critical Russian state enterprises, to be announced by the Treasury Department on Thursday. The official also noted Tuesday’s announcement that the Treasury Department has blocked Russia from repaying its debt with dollars stored in US banks.

The senior official noted the crippling effect of US measures on the Russian economy since its invasion of Ukraine.

“Russia’s GDP is expected to decline in double digits this year. … It is now being isolated as a pariah state. According to IMF (International Monetary Fund) projections, the economic shock of this year alone will wipe out the past 15 years of economic gains,” the official said.

While the United States and its allies have imposed the most sweeping sanctions regime in history against a country the size of Russia, officials concede it has done little to alter the calculus. of Putin. The threat of sanctions has not deterred the invasion itself, and the accumulation of economic sanctions has not brought Russia any closer to a withdrawal or a since-negotiated settlement.

Pressed on the effectiveness of sanctions in ending Putin’s war in Ukraine, the senior official sought to emphasize the effect they are having on life in Russia and said Putin should eventually reckon with his people.

“Even an autocrat like Putin has a social contract with the Russian people. He took away their freedom in exchange for a promise of stability, and therefore he is not giving them stability,” the official said.

“The question really isn’t so much: what can we do and when will it have an effect? ​​I think it’s: what’s the endgame here for Putin? Why is he playing? said the official. “It very clearly becomes a failure for him and at some point he will have to recognize this reality.”

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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