America imposes new sanctions on Putin’s aides, press secretary
The Biden administration ordered new sanctions blocking Russian business oligarchs and others in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle in response to a fierce beating of Ukraine by the Russian military on March 4.
Those targeted by the new sanctions include Dmitry Peskov, Mr. Putin’s press secretary, and Alisher Burhanovich Usmanov, one of Russia’s richest men and a close aide of Mr. Putin.
The US State Department also announced it was imposing visa restrictions on 19 Russian oligarchs and dozens of their family members and close aides.
“The goal was to maximize the impact on Mr. Putin and Russia and minimize the damage on us and our allies and friends around the world,” Mr. Biden said, referring to the new sanctions at the start of a meeting with his cabinet and vice president. did. -President Kamala Harris.
The White House said the oligarch and dozens of his family members would be cut off from the US financial system.
Their assets in the United States will be frozen and their assets will be barred from use.
The White House described Kremlin spokesman Peskov as “a top driver of Putin’s propaganda”. The assets of Mr. Usmanov and others will be barred from being used by the United States and the Americans. His assets include his superyacht, one of the world’s largest, which Germany had just confiscated.
Mr. Usmanov’s private jet, one of Russia’s largest privately owned aircraft, is also covered by sanctions.
The Usmanov superyacht, known as the Dilbar, is named after Mr. Usmanov’s mother and is estimated to be worth between $600 million and $735 million, according to the Treasury.
Dilbar has two helipads and one of the largest indoor pools in the world, installed on a yacht, and costs about $60 million per year to operate.
The targeted jet is believed to have cost between $350 million and $500 million and was previously leased for use by the president of Uzbekistan.
Others targeted on Thursday include Transneft oil executive Nikolai Tokarev; Arkady Rotenberg, co-owner of the largest construction company for gas pipelines and electric power supply lines in Russia; Sergei Chemezov, a former KGB agent who has long been close to Mr. Putin; Igor Shuvalov, former First Deputy Prime Minister and chairman of the State Development Corporation; and Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian businessman with close ties to Mr. Putin.
Mr Prigozhin, known as “Putin’s chef”, was accused in 2018 of being part of a wider effort by the US government to influence political opinion in the US during the 2016 presidential election.
According to the indictment, Mr. Prigozhin and his companies provided significant funding to the Internet Research Agency, a St. Petersburg-based group that fraudulently purchased fake social media postings and advertisements in the name of Americans to influence the race for the White House. went. ,
Deputy US Treasury Secretary Wally Ademo said on Thursday that the Biden administration will continue to target the Russian elite as it builds sanctions against the country.
He added that the elite are already “attempting to take their money out of Russia, as the Russian economy is shrinking.”
“We will make it harder for them to access the property going forward,” Mr Adeyemo said at an event organized by the Washington Post.
“Our goal is to find that money and freeze that money and confiscate it,” he added. The Biden administration has been unveiling new sanctions targeting Russian individuals and entities daily since the start of last week’s offensive, with officials saying they want to ensure Mr. Putin’s decision to attack Ukraine follows Russia. would come with huge cost to the economy.
One notable aspect of the latest sanctions is the extent to which the US punished family members of the oligarchs and those close to Mr Putin.
The recent anti-money-laundering law passed by Congress has helped the Treasury to unveil and target such people.
For example, family members of oil executive Mr Tokarev – including his wife, Galina Tokareva and daughter, Maia Tokareva – have benefited from his proximity to Mr Putin and the Russian government and have been affected by sanctions. According to the Treasury, Ms. Maia Tokareva’s real estate empire in Moscow is valued at over $50 million.
Russian elites who have not yet been targeted by the US or other Western countries have heeded the sanctions.
Faced with the threat of financial sanctions targeted at the Russians, Chelsea boss Roman Abramovich announced on Wednesday that he is looking to sell the Premier League club that became a trophy-winning machine thanks to his lavish investment.
Mr. Abramovich made his fortune in oil and aluminum during the chaotic years following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Mr Biden was reluctant to impose sanctions on Russia’s energy sector because of concerns that it would harm the US and its allies as well as the Russians.
“We have no strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.