The US has imposed its most severe level of sanctions on Sberbank, Russia’s largest financial institution, and Alpha Bank, the country’s largest private bank, and has sharpened its economic punishment on Moscow in response to Atrocities Performed by Russian forces in Ukraine.
Wednesday’s announcement of “full blocking sanctions” preventing lenders from making deals with any American institutions or individuals came after senior U.S. officials, including President Joe Biden, warned this week that they plan to impose tougher restrictions on Russia.
A senior US official said the latest steps came in response to the “sickening cruelty in Bocha”, a city near the capital Kyiv in which shocking images of Ukrainian civilians have appeared in recent days, indicating a possible massacre by Russian soldiers.
The U.S. has also imposed sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters, Ekaterina Tikhonova and Maria Vorontsova, the wife and daughter of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and members of Russia’s Security Council including former President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.
In addition, the U.S. said it would ban any new investment in Russia by America, and would unveil new blocking sanctions from large Russian government enterprises on Thursday.
The new restrictions on Sberbank and Alpha mean that the two Russian lenders are no longer able to make transactions with any American institution or person in any currency. Immediately after the invasion, the U.S. banned any debt or capital transactions with Alpha and Sberbank, but now it imposes “full blocking sanctions,” which involve much stricter restrictions.
“This is the most serious action we can take in terms of financial measures,” the U.S. source said. “And in practice, the history of sanctions is when we impose completely blocking sanctions [a] A financial institution, the rest of the world, even in other jurisdictions that have not yet been fully blocked, they respect the regime. So it tends to have a multiplier effect. “
The official added that the US and the EU chose to target Putin’s daughters because they believed they were helping to protect the Russian president’s wealth.
“We believe that many of Putin’s assets are hidden from family members and that is why we are targeting them,” he added.
The British government also announced on Wednesday additional sanctions against Putin’s regime, including a full asset freeze against Sberbank.
The measures, which Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said were marked by “the most severe sanctions to date”, included a ban on imports of Russian iron and steel products alongside a total ban on new foreign investment to Russia.
The UK has also imposed sanctions on eight other people linked to key Russian industries including Andrei Akimov, CEO of Gazprombank and Novatek’s founder and CEO, Leonid Michalson.
The US and European allies had hoped the initial outbreak would be heavy Sanctions Those imposed following Russia’s invasion in late February – including cutting off Moscow’s access to its foreign reserves by banning deals with its central bank – will suffice to isolate Russia economically without excessive leakage to the rest of the global economy.
But they were forced to consider additional targets as the conflict eroded, expanding their network to include companies and individuals in third countries who continue to do business with Russian entities and sharpen their enforcement with existing sanctions.
Edward Fishman, former head of Russia and Europe’s State Department sanctions, called Wednesday’s steps “the most significant sanctions taken since [Russian] Central Bank sanctions “imposed in late February.
“We are towards Iran-style sanctions,” he added, referring to the long-standing measures against Tehran since 1979. “It’s a conveyor belt and it only leads in one direction.”
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