White House expected to allow toughest sanctions on controversial Russian gas pipeline

The New US sanctions Those sparked by recent Russian actions in Ukraine included untouched targets in the past: family members of those in the inner circle of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

By appointing the sons of two powerful players close to the Russian president, the Biden administration has sent a clear signal that its target list of individual sanctions bypasses public officials and funders as part of a new effort to close tracks for Putin’s top partners to protect it. their wealth by giving it to family members.

Denis Bortnikov and Vladimir Kirienko, Both designated for individual sanctions by the Treasury on Tuesday hold prominent positions in Russian business. But both will have any US-owned assets frozen and they will be barred from doing business with any US person simply because their parents serve as Putin’s chief of internal intelligence and as one of Putin’s closest advisers, respectively.

“They share the corrupt gains of the Kremlin’s policies and should share in the pain as well,” Biden said on Tuesday.

Punishing the children of two of Putin’s closest officials does not bear the effect of other measures announced on Tuesday, most notably imposing sanctions on two of Russia’s most prominent banks and limiting the country’s access to Western financing.

But it is intended to destabilize a highly personal component of the Russian economy, one driven by the fact that Putin’s inner circle and associated family members represent an extraordinary consolidation of wealth and power within the country.

“This is unprecedented as we extend the reach of US sanctions to prevent elites close to Putin from using their children to hide assets, evade costs, and squander the resources of the Russian people,” a senior Biden administration official told CNN. “This is a new approach.”

Clearly, officials say, the opening shot for this approach is unlikely to be the last.

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The sanctions target “powerful Russians in Putin’s inner circle who are believed to be participating in the kleptocracy of the Russian regime and their family members.” According to the Treasury.

Denis Bortnikov is the son of Alexander Bortnikov, the powerful head of the Federal Security Service, the domestic Russian intelligence service known as the FSB. The elder Bortnikov, who had already undergone penalties in March of last year, was reclassified to penalties in the new round.

Vladimir Kirienko is the son of Sergei Kirienko, the former prime minister and current first deputy chief of the presidential staff, whom US officials consider “Putin’s domestic policy secretary”. The elder Kirienko, who was also sentenced in 2021, was also reclassified to penalties on Tuesday.

The reassignments were necessary to establish the legal path to targeting their children in the designation, which freezes all property and interests in property in the United States, or in the possession or control of a U.S. citizen.

Currently, the two sons hold their own prominent positions – Bortnikov as vice president of VTB Bank, one of the largest financial institutions in Russia, and Kiriyenko as the recently appointed CEO of VK Group, which acts as the parent company of the Russian social media company VK, which calls itself “the largest European social network” “.

Third, subject to penalties. Peter FradkoffThe military bank, who is CEO of Promsvyazbank, also targeted sanctions on Tuesday. But he, too, carries an essential family link with the higher echelons of Putin’s orbit.

Fradkov is the son of Mikhail Fradkov, the former Prime Minister of Russia and former head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR. The elder Fradkov was targeted for sanctions by the United States in 2018.

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