White House to sanction Putin for invasion of Ukraine

The Biden administration will sanction Russian President Vladimir Putin and other top officials in Moscow in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Friday. 

The move follows an announcement from the European Union earlier in the day that it would sanction Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov directly for the country’s attacks on Ukraine.

A day earlier, Biden hadn’t ruled out sanctioning Putin directly, but would not say whether he would pursue such a step. He spoke earlier in the day with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

“The president’s strong view and strong principle from the beginning of this conflict… has been to take action in steps in alignment with our European partners, and this is evidence of that,” Psaki said when asked what changed.

The sanctions target Putin, Lavrov and 11 members of the Russian security council who serve as top aides and advisers to Putin. Those individuals are Valentina Matviyenko, Sergei Naryshkin, Vyacheslav Volodin, Sergei Ivanov, Nikolai Patrushev, Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Alexander Bortnikov, Igor Krasnov, Igor Shchegolev, Vladimir Ustinov and Viktor Zolotov, according to the Treasury.

The sanctions will freeze all assets in U.S. territories or banks. Since the individuals likely do not have major assets in the U.S., the sanctions are largely symbolic and are meant to show a united front with European allies and a willingness to go directly after Putin.

“We are united with our international allies and partners to ensure Russia pays a severe economic and diplomatic price for its further invasion of Ukraine,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement. “If necessary, we are prepared to impose further costs on Russia for its appalling behavior on the world stage.”

Sanctioning a world leader directly is a rare step that comes days after Putin authorized military attacks on Ukraine. Russian military forces have moved closer to the capital of Kyiv, and U.S. officials have warned Russia may attempt to decapitate the Ukrainian government and replace it with pro-Russian leaders.

The Biden administration has rolled out phased sanctions in recent days in response to the attacks on Ukraine. Biden announced Tuesday sanctions on multiple Russian financial institutions and Russian oligarchs.

The president on Thursday hit two of Russia’s biggest banks with sanctions, said the U.S. would limit exports of certain goods to Russia, and froze the assets of additional Russian oligarchs.

The administration has said sanctions announced alongside European allies are meant to project a unified front and cripple the Russian economy over time to make the invasion of Ukraine untenable.

Tags Janet Yellen Jen Psaki Joe Biden sanctions Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin

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