US announces sanctions against Russia’s largest bank and Putin’s adult children

WASHINGTON – The United States and its allies, who seek to punish Russia for the killing of Ukrainian civilians, moved on Wednesday to impose full sanctions on Russia’s largest financial institutions and deny access to financial assets held by the United States for family members and those close to the president. Vladimir Putin from Russia.

Detailing the set of sanctions against reporters but not authorized to speak publicly, a senior administration official said the United States, in cooperation with the Group of Seven and the European Union, had imposed “complete ban” sanctions on Sberbank, Russia’s largest financial institution, and Alfa, one of the largest privately owned banks in the country.

Sberbank is the main artery in the Russian financial system and owns more than a third of the country’s financial assets. In February, the Treasury announced limited sanctions against Sberbank, but the official said Wednesday’s sanctions would effectively freeze relations between the bank and the US financial system.

The administration also announced sanctions against two eldest daughters of Putin: Katerina Tikhonova and Maria Butina, who live under the pseudonym, Maria Vorontsova. Others linked to Russian officials close to Putin will face sanctions, including the wife and daughter of Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, and members of Russia’s Security Council, including former Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. These people will be effectively cut off from the US banking system and any assets held in the United States, the official said.

At a press conference on Wednesday, officials from the Department of Justice and the FBI also announced a series of criminal actions and charges against the Russians, including the removal of a Russian marketplace on the dark web and a botnet, or a network of hijacked devices infected with malware, controlled by the agency. Military intelligence in the country.

Justice Department officials also celebrated the confiscation of Tango, a luxury yacht owned by Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, and accused a Russian banker, Konstantin Malofeev, of conspiring to breach US sanctions. Malofeev is one of Russia’s most powerful tycoons and one of the most prominent conservatives in the country’s Kremlin-aligned elite. (The indictment makes his nickname Malofeyev).

The Treasury will also prevent Russia from making debt payments with assets under US jurisdiction, a move that will force Russia to find new sources of financing outside of its frozen central bank funds. The end result, the official said, was that Russian citizens would return to Soviet-era standards of living in the 1980s, and Putin would find himself increasingly ostracized.

So far, Putin has resisted increasingly dire consequences, continuing his invasion of Ukraine even as Western countries moved to freeze him from the international economic system.

The Biden administration has been under pressure to announce new measures against Russia since reports emerged of Russian soldiers indiscriminately killing Ukrainian civilians in the Kyiv suburb of Buka. On Monday, President Biden promised new sanctions and called Putin a “war criminal,” although he did not call the Bucha violence a genocide.

On Wednesday, the official said, Mr. Biden will sign an executive order banning all new investments in the Russian Federation by US citizens, wherever they are.

Zack Montague Contribute to the preparation of reports.

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