The US is targeting Russian oligarchs with new sanctions

US President Biden travels to Wisconsin
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers a speech at the Yellowjacket Union during his visit to the University of Wisconsin-Superior in Superior, Wisconsin, the United States, March 2, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

March 3, 2022

By Steve Holland, Matt Spetalnick and Daphne Psaledakis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on Russian oligarchs as it targeted Russia’s super-rich and others close to President Vladimir Putin, adding to financial pressures over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The United States imposed full lockdown sanctions on eight oligarchs and officials, including Russian tycoon Alisher Usmanov, targeting those who have amassed wealth and political clout through their ties to Putin.

“We want him (Putin) to feel the pressure, we want people around him to feel the pressure,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday.

The move is the latest in a series of sanctions Washington has announced so far, including against Putin and the central bank, after Russian forces invaded Ukraine in the biggest attack on a European state since World War II. Moscow calls the attack a “special operation”.

Washington on Thursday imposed sanctions on Usmanov, founder of Russian mining company Metalloinvest, whom the White House described as “one of Russia’s richest people and a close ally of Putin.”

The move prevents use of his property in the United States and by US citizens, including his luxury yacht, which the White House said was confiscated by Germany, and his private jet.

The US Treasury Department took the rare step of including a pair of photos of Usmanov’s superyacht and private jet in normally text-based press releases.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, whom the White House accused of being “a top purveyor of Putin’s propaganda,” was also targeted.

Nikolay Tokarev, the CEO of energy giant Transneft, was nominated along with his wife, daughter and two luxury real estate companies.

Billionaires Boris and Arkady Rotenberg and several family members have also been hit by sanctions, as has Igor Shuvalov, a Russian politician and former Deputy Prime Minister to Putin, who heads the State Development Corporation.

Yevgeniy Prigozhin, previously targeted for alleged attempts to meddle in US elections, was renamed. Describing him as the Russian financier of the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the Treasury Ministry said his “influence apparatus is reportedly supporting Russian government-designed influencing operations in Ukraine.”

“The Treasury Department is committed to holding Russian elites accountable for their support of President Putin’s election campaign,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.


In addition to sanctions against Russian elites, the Treasury Ministry has accused 26 Russian and Ukrainian residents and seven Russian entities, some linked to Russian intelligence agencies, of spreading disinformation aimed at destabilizing the Ukrainian government.

The United States will also impose visa restrictions on 19 Russian oligarchs, their family members and associates, the White House said in a statement.

Thursday’s action helps bring the United States in line with measures taken by the European Union earlier this week.

The EU on Monday imposed sanctions on 26 prominent figures over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including oligarchs and businessmen working in the oil, banking and finance sectors. EU actions included Peskov and Usmanov.

Britain also imposed sanctions on Usmanov and Shuvalov on Thursday.

Thursday’s measures come after the US Justice Department on Wednesday created a task force called “KleptoCapture” aimed at straining the finances of Russian oligarchs.

The United States and its allies announced last week that they would set up a task force to identify and freeze the assets of sanctioned Russian companies and oligarchs.

Washington has repeatedly warned that it stands ready to take further action to hold Moscow accountable for its invasion of Ukraine.

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, US President Joe Biden said the United States was working to confiscate the yachts, luxury homes and private jets of wealthy Russians with ties to Putin.

“We come for your ill-gotten gains,” Biden said.

US prosecutors in Manhattan on Thursday charged a TV producer owned by Konstantin Malofeyev, described as a Russian oligarch, with violating Crimean sanctions.

The producer, US citizen John Hanick, was arrested in London in February and the United States is seeking his extradition. Prosecutors said Hanick was charged with violating US sanctions that arose from Russia’s 2014 invasion of the Crimean peninsula.

(Reporting by Steve Holland, Daphne Psaledakis and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski) The US is targeting Russian oligarchs with new sanctions

Bobby Allyn

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