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New U.S. sanctions target Russian oligarchs over Ukraine war

European Union leaders attend a summit at the Chateau de Versailles near Paris on March 11, 2022. Photo by the European Union/ UPI | License Photo

March 3 (UPI) -- The United States on Thursday added new economic sanctions on pro-Vladimir Putin Russian "elites," oligarchs and their families who are supporting the war on Ukraine.

"These individuals have enriched themselves at the expense of the Russian people, and some have elevated their family members into high-ranking positions, the White House said in a statement. "These individuals and their families will be cut off from the U.S. financial system, their assets will be frozen and their property will be blocked from use."

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The new sanctions target Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, as well as:

  • Nikolai Tokarev, his wife Galina; daughter Mayya; and his two luxury real estate companies
  • Boris Rotenberg, his wife, Karina; and his sons Roman and Boris
  • Arkady Rotenberg, his sons Pavel and Igor and daughter Liliya
  • Sergei Chemezov, his wife, Yekaterina; son Stanislav; and stepdaughter Anastasiya
  • Igor Shuvalov, his five companies; wife, Olga; son Evgeny and his company and jet; and his daughter Maria and her company
  • Yevgeniy Prigozhin, his three companies; his wife, Polina; daughter Lyubov; and his son Pavel
  • Alisher Usmanov, his super yacht, one of the world's largest, seized by Germany; and his private jet, one of Russia's largest privately owned aircraft
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The new sanctions follow others issued in the days since Russian forces invaded Ukraine a week ago, uniting the West in opposition. Even Switzerland, long been famous for its neutrality, has imposed penalties.

The aim is to pressure Putin into a withdrawal in Ukraine and signal to other would-be invaders that the sovereign rights of all nations must be respected.

Deputy national security adviser for international economics Daleep Singh speaks to reporters and specifies sanctions against Russia in the press briefing room at the White House on February 24, just hours after Russia invaded Ukraine. Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI

Government financial sanctions

The White House has said that the aim of U.S. sanctions is "severe and immediate economic costs on Russia." They include sanctions that target the Central Bank of Russia and the country's 10 largest financial institutions.

RELATED EU suspends Russia Today, Sputnik broadcasts

Several Russian banks have also been cut off from the SWIFT global payment system -- a move designed to further isolate Russia from the global trade markets.

The Central Bank of Russia has also been barred from accessing foreign currency reserves, which is a heavy blow because the roughly $640 billion Russia holds in reserve consists of dollars, euros and sterling.

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The White House said U.S. sanctions include "full blocking and correspondent and payable-through account sanctions, and debt and equity restrictions on institutions holding 80% of Russian banking sector assets".

RELATED EU bans 7 Russian banks from SWIFT international payment system

U.S. officials say export control measures will cut off more than half of Russia's high-tech imports and "atrophy" Russia's industrial base.

In his State of The Union speech on Tuesday, U.S. President Joe Biden announced an effort to target Russian oligarchs through a new Justice Department task force called Task Force KleptoCapture. The task force was formally unveiled Wednesday.

"The United States Department of Justice is assembling a dedicated task force to go after the crimes of the Russian oligarchs," Biden said in his speech. "We are joining with European allies to find and seize their yachts, their luxury apartments, their private jets. We're coming for your ill-begotten gains."

On Thursday, Japan announced that it's also imposing sanctions on both Russia and Belarus that target banks, officials and oligarchs.

U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines said last week that it was suspending a travel agreement with Aeroflot, Russia's flagship carrier. File Photo by John Dickerson/UPI

Shipping and air travel

Biden also announced in his prime-time address that the United States would close off its airspace to Russian planes, joining more than 30 other countries that have done so.

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Britain has also banned ships and yachts with any Russian connection.

The world's three largest shipping companies have suspended "non-essential" cargo shipments to and from Russia: Denmark's Maersk, Swiss-based MSC and French shipping company CMA CGM.

Last week, Delta Air Lines suspended its codeshare agreement with Russian national carrier Aeroflot.

Energy giant BP has said it's abandoned its stake in Russian oil company Rosneft, which was worth almost 20% of the state-run company. File Photo by Erik Lesser/EPA-EFE

Energy blacklist

More energy companies are distancing themselves from Moscow, as well.

BP said this week it's dumping its stake in Russian energy company Rosneft -- a share that's worth almost 20%.

"Russia's attack on Ukraine is an act of aggression, which is having tragic consequences across the region," BP Chairman Helge Lund said in a statement. "It has led the BP board to conclude ... that our involvement with Rosneft ... simply cannot continue."

Shell has also said it's leaving Russian energy company Gazprom and ending its 10% stake in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Though not yet operational, the pipeline would carry gas between Russia and Germany, and by extension Europe.

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"We are shocked by the loss of life in Ukraine, which we deplore, resulting from a senseless act of military aggression, which threatens European security," Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said in a statement.

ExxonMobil, which is one of the world's largest energy companies, said it's begun the process of exiting the Sakhalin-1 project, a joint energy project with Russia, Japan and India.

Several bars and liquor stores in North America have barred the sale of Russian-made vodka, due to the fighting in Ukraine. File Photo by BIllie Jean Shaw/UPI

Other boycotts

The European Union said Wednesday it's suspending the broadcast activities of state-run Russian media outlets Russia Today and Sputnik. A similar move was made by Apple and YouTube this week.

Bars and liquor stores across North America are participating in a boycott of Russian-made vodka.

The International Paralympic Committee banned Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Paralympic Games in Beijing -- after first deciding that they could participate with restrictions.

The UEFA moved the Champions League final, scheduled for May, from Russia to France.

Formula 1 canceled its contract Thursday with the promoter of the Russian Grand Prix, saying that "Russia will not have a race in the future."

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And FIFe, an international cat federation with members in 40 countries, is even banning Russian cats from its competitions for three months.

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