Sat. May 28th, 2022

The Biden administration has announced sanctions on several Russian oligarchs and government officials in its most extensive step to tackle Vladimir Putin’s business allies and inner circle following the invasion of Ukraine.

The move by Washington on Thursday targeted individuals including Russian billionaire financier Alisher Usmanov, Nikolai Tokarev, the chief executive of energy company Transneft, and Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman.

“These individuals and their family members will be cut off from the US financial system, their assets in the United States will be frozen and their property will be blocked from use,” the White House said.

“The Department of Treasury will share financial intelligence and other evidence where appropriate with the Department of Justice to support criminal prosecutions and seizure of assets,” it added.

Other individuals sanctioned by the US included Boris Rotenberg, Arkady Rotenberg, Sergei Chemezov, Igor Shuvalov, and Yevgeniy Prigozhin.

Meanwhile, the White House also announced that the state department would implement visa restrictions on 19 Russian oligarchs and 47 of their family members.

The Treasury department will also impose sanctions on seven Russian media entities responsible for spreading “false narratives that advance Russian strategic objectives and falsely justify the Kremlin’s activities”.

Broader US sanctions on Russian oligarchs were widely expected after the EU published its own list of targeted individuals and began to seize some assets held by Russian oligarchs in Europe.

US President Joe Biden had vowed to target Russian oligarchs in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night and set up a task force at the justice department to implement the ban from a law enforcement perspective.

Earlier this week, the US imposed sanctions on Kirill Dmitriev, the chief executive of Russia’s most prominent sovereign wealth fund, the Russian Direct Investment Fund.

US officials previously told the Financial Times that they would base the sanctions decisions on a classified list of senior political figures and Russian oligarchs sent to Congress by the Treasury department in 2018.

The Biden administration has escalated its sanctions against Moscow in response to the increased brutality of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with new restrictions being implemented almost on a daily basis.

On Wednesday, it announced new export controls on equipment sales for oil and gas extraction and said it would consider an outright ban on Russian oil. At the start of the week, the US took the drastic step of banning transactions with Russia’s central bank to block Moscow from gaining access to its $ 630bn pile of foreign reserves, leading to a sharp plunge into the value of the ruble.

The US has also joined the EU and Canada in banning Russian flights from its airspace, in a further attempt to isolate Russia from the international community.

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