The United States will impose new sanctions on Russian oligarchs, the White House said Thursday, slamming them as “Putin’s cronies” in the latest effort to pressure the Kremlin into stopping its invasion of Ukraine.
The sanctions will match earlier EU measures against Russia’s wealthiest figures and expand them to include a travel ban to the United States and also prevent oligarchs from transferring their assets to family members.
“These individuals have enriched themselves at the expense of the Russian people,” the White House said in a statement detailing the new measures.
They and their family members “will be cut off from the US financial system, their assets in the United States will be frozen and their property will be blocked from use,” it continued.
The White House singled out several including tycoon Alisher Usmanov, whose “property will be blocked from use in the United States and by US persons — including his superyacht… and his private jet.”
Usmanov’s yacht, the “Dilbar,” is currently at a shipyard in Hamburg for repair work.
Authorities there denied the yacht, the world’s biggest by tonnage, has been seized, but it is unlikely to leave Hamburg soon since all goods transported to Russia from the German port now require individual customs permits.
The Biden administration also pointed the finger at Putin’s longtime spokesman Dmitry Peskov, a “top purveyor” of the Russian leader’s “propaganda.”
Also targeted were Nikolay Tokarev, boss of pipeline mammoth Transneft; brother Boris and Arkady Rotenberg, who play ice hockey with Putin and made their money from state construction contracts, and Rostec head Sergei Chemezov.
The United States and its European allies intend to inflict financial pain on the Russian elite as a way to get to Putin, who has made himself all-powerful during two decades in power and seemingly invulnerable to outside pressure.
The oligarchs — government officials and business owners who have amassed vast wealth inside an economy where only Putin loyalists can get ahead — are seen as vulnerable because much of their wealth is tied to Western interests.
They own prestigious property in New York, sports clubs across the West, enormous yachts in the Mediterranean and send their children to the most expensive US universities, while traveling in luxury around the world.
Much of that lifestyle is now set to come to a halt.
“The United States and governments all over the world will work to identify and freeze the assets Russian elites and their family members hold in our respective jurisdictions — their yachts, luxury apartments, money, and other ill-gotten gains,” the White House said.