June 3

By Susan Milligan

The Biden administration tightened the noose around Russia’s economy tighter Thursday, imposing a new set of sanctions on Russian elites targeting those who may be helping Russian President Vladimir Putin and others hide assets and avoid earlier sanctions.

The new actions also further restrict Russia’s ability to gain technology it needs “to sustain aggression and project power,” according to a White House fact sheet. The moves are intended to further damage the Russian economy – already projected to shrink by double digits this year, with inflation expected to hit 20% – and make the invader nation “a global financial pariah,” the White House said.

Added targets of existing sanctions include Sergei Roldugin, money manager of Putin’s offshore wealth, along with Roldugin’s family. Also added to the list are Putin-linked yachts, Kremlin-aligned yacht brokerages, government ministers overseeing important sectors of the economy, and the president of the state-owned United Aircraft Corporation, a leading Russian defense company.

The Commerce Department, meanwhile, is adding 71 Russian and Belarusian entities to its list of those banned from obtaining certain technologies and software. The move is intended to frustrate Russia’s ability to wage war.

“Russia’s elites, up to and including President Putin, rely on complex support networks to hide, move, and maintain their wealth and luxury assets,” Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in a statement.

“Today’s action demonstrates that Treasury can and will go after those responsible for shielding and maintaining these ill-gotten interests. We will continue to enforce our sanctions and expose the corrupt systems by which President Putin and his elites enrich themselves.”

The State Department also expanded its list of targets for sanctions, adding Maria

Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, as well as more Russian oligarchs close to Putin.

The sanctions targeted at individuals are meant to knock down the wealth barrier that keeps the wealthy from suffering the impacts of the war against Ukraine, perhaps inducing Putin’s friends to pressure the Russian leader to end his aggression on Russia’s western neighbor. U.S. and allied nations already have been seizing yachts and other properties from Russian elites, with the new sanctions expanding the number of targets.

The announcement comes as President Biden has conducted a full-court press to convince the media and the public that he is taking action on a wide array of issues, including the war. On Wednesday, Biden published an op-ed in The New York Times laying out his strategy in Ukraine, including sending advanced “artillery rockets” to Ukraine.

Russia has complained that Ukraine will use the weaponry to attack targets in Russia, but Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this week that Ukraine has assured him they do not intend to use them for that purpose.