WASHINGTON – The United States and its allies seeking to punish Russia for killing Ukrainian civilians intervened on Wednesday to impose full sanctions on Russia’s largest financial institutions and block access to US-held financial assets for family members. close associates of President Vladimir Putin of Russia.
A senior administration official, who described in detail the set of sanctions for reporters but was not authorized to speak publicly, said the United States, working with Group 7 and the European Union, had imposed “completely blocking” sanctions against Sberbank, the largest financial institution in Russia and Alfa Bank, one of the largest private banks in the country.
Sberbank is the main artery in the Russian financial system and holds over a third of the country’s financial assets. In February, the Treasury Department announced limited sanctions against Sberbank, but Wednesday’s sanctions, the official said, would effectively freeze relations between the bank and the United States financial system.
The administration has also announced sanctions against two of Putin’s adult daughters: Katerina Tikhonova and Maria Putina, who lives under the fictitious name of Maria Vorontsova. Others linked to Russian officials close to Putin will also face sanctions, including the wife and daughter of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and members of Russia’s Security Council, including former Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The official said these people would be effectively detached from the US banking system and all assets held in the United States.
At a news conference Wednesday, Justice and FBI officials also announced a series of actions and criminal charges against Russians, including removing a Russian market in the dark web and a botnet or network of hijacked devices infected with malware controlled by military intelligence. the country.
Justice Department officials also celebrated the capture of Tango, a superyacht owned by Russian oligarch Viktor F. Vekselberg, and accused Russian banker Konstantin Malofeev of plotting to violate US sanctions. Mr Malofeev is one of Russia’s most influential tycoons and one of the country’s most prominent conservative elites. (The indictment states his last name Malofeev.)
The Treasury will also block Russia from making debt payments with assets under US jurisdiction, a move that will force Russia to find new sources of funding outside of its frozen central bank funds. The end result, the official said, is that Russian citizens will return to the Soviet-era standard of living of the 1980s, and Mr Putin will become increasingly outcast.
Until now, Mr Putin has resisted increasingly serious consequences, continuing his invasion of Ukraine, even as Western nations try to freeze him from the international economic order.
The Biden administration has come under pressure to declare new action against Russia after reports of indiscriminate killings of Ukrainian civilians by Russian troops in the Kiev suburb of Bucha. On Monday, President Biden promised new sanctions and called Mr Putin a “war criminal”, although he did not call the violence in Bucha a genocide.
On Wednesday, Mr. Biden will sign an executive order banning all new investments in the Russian Federation by American citizens, wherever they are, the official said.
Zach Montague contributed to the reporting.