US readies sanctions on Russian elites in event of Ukraine invasion

The Biden administration is readying sanctions on Russians with links to the Kremlin that would be triggered if Russian President Vladimir Putin invades Ukraine.  

The administration has identified Russians who are “in or near the inner circles of the Kremlin and play a role in government decision making or are at a minimum complicit in the Kremlin’s destabilizing behavior,” a senior Biden administration official said Monday.

The administration is preparing to block assets of these individuals and members of their families in the event of a renewed Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The official did not provide names of those who would be subject to sanctions but said the list is “broad” and draws in part from a classified report the Treasury Department submitted to Congress in 2018, under the Trump administration, as required by a 2017 sanctions law.

That report named senior Russian government officials, political leaders and oligarchs.   

The sanctions would be imposed under an executive order that Biden signed in April. 

“Many of these individuals are particularly vulnerable targets because of their deepened financial ties with the west,” the senior Biden administration official said. “Sanctions would cut them off from the international financial system and ensure that they and their family members will no longer able to enjoy the perks of parking their money in the west and attending elite western universities.” 

The sanctions list, which was first reported by CNN on Monday, is part of a broader effort by the Biden administration to signal harsh penalties on Russia if it were to invade Ukraine, something U.S. officials have warned could be imminent.  

The Biden administration has also threatened to impose export controls that would prevent Russia from gaining access to key U.S. technologies, a move that officials say would hurt Moscow in key sectors like artificial intelligence, defense and aviation.  

The U.S. is also reportedly preparing sanctions hutting Russian financial institutions, but the administration has not laid out the full scope of what penalties Russia would face. The senior administration official said Monday that “all options remain on the table.”  

The Biden administration has been consulting with European allies on possible sanctions. U.S. officials are cognizant that major sanctions levied on Russia could also have an adverse impact on European economies.   

Meanwhile, the U.S. called a United Nations Security Council meeting on Monday to discuss Russian aggression toward Ukraine to put pressure on Moscow to back down.  

Russia has amassed some 100,000 troops at Ukraine’s border and showed no signs of backing down after private talks between Biden administration officials and their Russian counterparts.   

“The United States and our Allies and partners continue to prepare for every scenario,” President Biden said in a statement Monday morning as the meeting got underway.  

“The world must be clear-eyed about the actions Russia is threatening and ready to respond to the risks those actions present to all of us.” 

Tags Joe Biden Russia Ukraine Vladimir Putin

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