US targets Putin’s adult daughters in new round of Russian sanctions

(WASHINGTON) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters — Maria and Katerina — are included in the latest round of sanctions on Russia the U.S. announced on Wednesday.

“The sickening brutality in Bucha has made tragically clear the despicable nature of the Putin regime, and today, in alignment with G-7 allies and partners, we’re intensifying the most severe sanctions ever levied on a major economy,” a Biden senior administration official told reporters.

The new round of sanctions includes a ban on all new investments in Russia, increased sanctions on two major financial institutions in Russia — Sberbank and Alfa-Bank — as well as on major Russian state-owned enterprises, and sanctions on Russian government officials and their family members — including Putin’s daughters.

“Today, we’re sanctioning Putin’s adult children, [Russian Foreign] Minister [Sergey] Lavrov’s wife and his daughter and members of Russia’s Security Council,” the official said, including former president and Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, according to the White House.

The official added on a call with reporters that the U.S. has reason to believe that Putin and his cronies hide their wealth with family members, and said, “We believe that many of Putin’s assets are hidden, with family members and that’s why we’re targeting them.”

“These individuals have enriched themselves at the expense of the Russian people. Some of them are responsible for providing the support necessary to underpin Putin’s war on Ukraine. This action cuts them off from the U.S. financial system and freezes any assets they hold in the United States,” the White House said in a fact sheet announcing the sanctions.

Since Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine in late February, the U.S. has sanctioned more than 140 oligarchs and their family members and more than 400 Russian government officials and has now fully blocked more than two-thirds of the Russian banking sector, which held about $1.4 trillion in assets before the war.

In conjunction with the G-7 and European Union, the U.S. also announced Wednesday it was cutting off Russia’s ability to use its previously frozen central bank funds to make debt payments — forcing it to find other sources of dollars to avoid defaulting.

“At this rate, it will go back to Soviet-style living standards from the 1980s,” the senior administration official warned.

Asked if the U.S. was concerned about any downsides to detaching Russia from the global market to the point where it would become more concerned with disrupting it, rather than getting back in, the official seemingly brushed off the concern, saying that the U.S. was using a “negative feedback loop” to deter Putin, but that can be stopped if Putin also stops.

“None of this is permanent. The only aspect that’s permanent of the lives that he’s taken away, and he can never bring those back. But the sanctions, the sanctions are designed to be able to respond to the conditions on the ground, and to create leverage for the outcome we seek,” he said.

The announcement follows President Joe Biden on Monday saying he was seeking further sanctions in response to apparent war crimes in Bucha — but as national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned this week, the White House acknowledges that further sanctions against Russia will not change Putin’s behavior overnight.

“Sanctions are intended to impose costs so Russia can’t carry on these grotesque acts without paying a severe price for it,” Sullivan said during Monday’s briefing.

“We don’t expect that that shift in behavior will be caused by sanctions overnight or in a week. It will take time to grind down the elements of Russian power within the Russian economy, to hit their industrial base hard, to hit the sources of revenue that have propped up this war and propped up the kleptocracy in Russia,” he added.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.