The U.S. has imposed sanctions aimed at Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and his ties to the West as Washington expands the list of financial penalties it and European allies will impose if Russia invades Ukraine.
The move comes after the United Kingdom on Monday promised to introduce a new law that would strengthen London’s ability to target Kremlin-linked companies and their owners in the country in the event of Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Senior U.S. administration officials told the Financial Times that the list of individuals and family members to be sanctioned was made in coordination with U.S. allies as part of efforts to punish the Russian president in the event of an attack.
“The individuals we have identified are in or near the Kremlin’s inner circle and play a role in government decision-making or are at least complicit in the Kremlin’s destabilizing behavior,” U.S. officials said.
Administration officials did not name the Russian oligarchs and family members concerned, but said many “particularly vulnerable targets due to their deepened financial ties with the West ”.
“Sanctions would cut them off from the international financial system and ensure that they and their family members will no longer be able to enjoy the benefits of parking their money in the West and attending elite Western universities,” senior Biden administration officials said.
Measures will be taken to target Russian oligarchs in addition to broader sanctions against sectors of the Russian economy, including banking and energy, which the U.S. and its allies have been debating for weeks.
On Monday, British government officials said that under the new law, the United Kingdom would be able to act “in step with the US and other allies to freeze funds and ban travel”.
Speaking in parliament on Monday, Liz Truss, Britain’s foreign minister, said: “We will be able to target any company linked to the Russian state, doing business of economic importance to the Russian state or doing business in a sector of strategic importance to the Russian state. ”
In Washington, senior Biden administration officials said the targets were chosen from among Russian leaders, officials, senior executives or board members of state-owned companies. They could operate in “any sector of the Russian economy as identified by the Secretary of the Treasury,” and extend to spouses and children.
U.S. officials said some of the individuals were selected from a classified list high-ranking politicians and Russian oligarchs sent to the Congress by the Ministry of Finance in 2018, known as section 241 of the Law on the Suppression of American Opponents through Sanctions, a law passed in 2017.
“Putin’s friends will no longer be able to use their spouses or other family members as proxies to evade sanctions,” senior administration officials said.
A parallel UK effort focusing on oligarchs will be particularly important for the US as many members of the Russian elite own property and other financial ties in Britain.
“The United States and the United Kingdom are one step closer and we are ready – in coordination with other allies and partners – to impose huge costs if Russia attacks Ukraine further. Russia knows that. We welcome the UK’s strong partnership in enforcing existing sanctions for malicious activity and in preparing a package of strong economic measures to deter further Russian aggression, “a White House National Security Council spokesman told the Financial Times.
Punishments against the Russian elite do not prevent Washington from imposing sanctions that are directly aimed at Putin, which Biden said was a possibility last week.
“This is not the final list of costs we will impose. All options remain on the table, “said senior management officials.