US to target Putin’s inner circle with sanctions if Ukraine invaded | Russia
Washington and its allies have prepared a list of Russian elites in or near Vladimir Putin’s inner circle who would face economic sanctions if the Kremlin orders an invasion of Ukraine, according to a US briefing.
The language used in a US official’s briefing to Reuters is notably similar to that used on Sunday by UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who said Britain would introduce legislation allowing banks, energy companies and to “oligarchs close to the Kremlin” to be targeted by London, and specifies that the targeting would be coordinated at the international level.
“The individuals we have identified are in or near internal Kremlin circles and play a role in government decision-making or are at least complicit in destabilizing Kremlin behavior,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Names were not released, but the official said the sanctions list would be made up of elite figures – or oligarchs – along with their family members.
“There is a wide list of individuals we can take advantage of,” the official told Reuters, noting that some are believed to be from a classified list of high-level Russian politicians and oligarchs described in Article 241. of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act in a report. sent to the US Congress in 2018.
This list contains 114 “high political figures” – but not Putin himself – and 96 other “oligarchs”, although it is three years out of date.
“Putin’s cronies will no longer be able to use their spouses or other family members as proxies to evade sanctions. Sanctions would cut them off from the international financial system and ensure that they and their family members can no longer enjoy the benefits of parking their money in the West and attending elite Western universities,” the official added. .
A shorter list of eight appointees was released a year ago by an ally of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, selected from a longer, unpublished list of 35 people. Their number included Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich and metals mogul Alisher. Usmanov, who has links with Everton FC.
The list appears to have inspired other efforts by US lawmakers to sanction Kremlin insiders, including the recently introduced Putin Accountability Act, which targets an identical list of 35 Russian oligarchs and senior officials.
It is unclear whether Abramovich or Usmanov are on the sanctions list released by the United States on Monday. Both denied being close to the Kremlin.
The UK’s announcement of new legislation targeting Russian entities and people drew a fierce response from Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who described the proposed measures as a “direct attack on business”. and threatened retaliation.
“The statements made in London are very worrying,” Peskov said in a telephone briefing. “I think they are not only worrying us, our businesses, they are also demonstrating a significant degree of London’s unpredictability, which is a source of serious concern for international financial institutions and commercial entities.”
Peskov did not specifically respond to threats against wealthy Russians close to Putin, but he called the threat of sanctions illegitimate, saying they would harm Russian and British business interests.
“You have to call a spade a spade: the sanctions are something legitimate, formalized by a resolution of the UN Security Council, whereas here we are dealing with a pure and simple attack against companies”, a- he said on the call.
Anti-corruption campaigner Bill Browder has called on Britain to target Russian oligarchs close to Putin with economic sanctions to halt any invasion of Ukraine.
The US-born financier believes the most effective way to get the Russian president‘s attention is to target his finances and those of those close to him, and the UK shouldn’t need to wait to see if there is a war.
“They should sanction five oligarchs tomorrow. This would show that there is a political will to do so. Then [they] should sanction five more if they do not withdraw within 10 days, and the first 50 if they invade,” Browder told the Guardian.
Truss is expected to unveil legislation in the Commons on Monday afternoon to allow Britain to target elite businesses and individuals.