WASHINGTON – The United States and its allies on Wednesday set out to impose a total embargo on Russia’s largest financial institution and block access to U.S.-held financial assets for family members and close associates of the president in a bid to punish Russia for killing civilians in Ukraine. Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
A senior administration official, detailing the ban suite for journalists but not allowed to speak publicly, said the United States, working with Group of 7 and the European Union, had imposed a “complete blockade” on Sberbank, the largest financial institution. In Russia, and Alpha Bank, one of the largest privately owned banks in the country
Sberbank is the main artery of the Russian financial system and holds more than one-third of the country’s financial assets. In February, the Treasury announced limited sanctions against Sberbank, but Wednesday’s sanctions, officials said, would effectively freeze the relationship between the bank and the US financial system.
The administration has also announced sanctions against Mr Putin’s two adult daughters: Katarina Tikhonova and Maria Putina, who lives in Maria Vorontsova. Other members of Russia’s Security Council, including the wife and daughter of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and former Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, will also face sanctions. The official said those individuals would be effectively separated from the US banking system and any assets held in the United States.
At a news conference Wednesday, the judiciary and FBI officials also announced multiple actions and criminal charges against the Russians, including removing the Dark Web and a botnet, or a Russian marketplace infected with a network of hijacked devices. Malware, which is controlled by the country’s military intelligence agencies.
Judicial officials also celebrated the seizure of a superior tango owned by Russian oligarch Victor F. Wexelberg and accused a Russian banker, Konstantin Malofeev, of conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions. Mr Maloffiev is one of Russia’s most influential magnets and one of the most prominent conservatives in the country’s Kremlin-allied elite. (His surname is mentioned in the complaint as Malofeev.)
The Treasury Department will also prevent Russia from repaying loans with assets subject to US jurisdiction, a move that would force Russia to find new sources of funding outside its frozen central bank funds. As a result, Russian citizens will return to Soviet-era life in the 1980s, and Mr Putin will find himself increasingly a parasite, the official said.
So far, Mr Putin has resisted the increasingly harsh consequences, continuing his attacks on Ukraine and even taking steps by Western countries to suspend him from the international economic system.
The Biden administration was under pressure to announce new measures against Russia as Russian troops reportedly indiscriminately killed Ukrainian civilians in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha. On Monday, President Biden promised new sanctions and called Mr. Putin a “war criminal,” although he did not call the Bucha genocide a violent act.
On Wednesday, Mr. Biden will sign an executive order barring U.S. citizens from all new investments in the Russian Federation, wherever they are, the official said.
Jack Montagu Contributing Reporting.