US announces new sanctions against Russian oligarchs says it empowers Putin

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US announces new sanctions against Russian oligarchs says it empowers Putin

They include penalties for the Kremlin spokesman.

March 3, 2022, 11:35 pm

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On Thursday, the United States announced new sanctions against members of the Russian elite, including the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, and said that it would prevent 19 members of the oligarchy and 47 of their relatives and associates from traveling to the United States.

Targets of sanctions include Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, as well as one of Russia’s richest men, Alisher Usmanov, according to the White House.

Photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Russian businessman and founder of USM Holdings Alisher Usmanov, November 27, 2018, during an award ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Russian businessman and founder of USM Holdings Alisher Usmanov, November 27, 2018, during an award ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow.

Germany had already seized Usmanov’s luxury yacht, and the White House said the boat and Usmanov’s private jet – which it said was one of Russia’s largest privately owned aircraft – would be banned for use in the United States or by Americans.

Photo: The luxury yacht Dilbar, owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, sails on the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey, May 29, 2019.
Dilbar, a luxury yacht owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, sails on the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey, May 29, 2019.

“These are important steps that will affect the people around President Putin. We want him to feel the pressure. We want the people around him to feel the pressure,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

Photo: Russian Presidential Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov attends the 24th Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum at the ExpoForum Convention and Exhibition Center in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Russian Presidential Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov attends the 24th Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum at the ExpoForum Convention and Exhibition Center in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

President Joe Biden touched on recent US actions against Russia at the summit of his administration’s fourth cabinet meeting, saying that steps already taken by his administration and its allies are having a “profound impact.”

Biden said that the punished Russian oligarch “is filling their pockets with the money of the Russian people while Ukraine and the people are hiding in the subway from missiles fired indiscriminately from Russian cities.”

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks during a cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, March 3, 2022, in Washington, DC.
President Joe Biden speaks during a cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, March 3, 2022, in Washington, DC.

In a press release, the Treasury said it and the State Department had ramped up pressure on Russia by “punishing many Russian elites and their family members, designating certain properties of these people as prohibited, and imposing sanctions on Russian intelligence-directed disinformation outlets.”

She said the sanctioned elites provided direct and indirect support to the Russian government through their business empires, fortunes, and other resources. “The assistance of these individuals, their family members, and other key elites allows President Vladimir Putin to continue his ongoing, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,” the statement read.

Usmanov is described as one of the richest billionaires in Russia with huge holdings across multiple sectors of the Russian Federation’s economy as well as internationally.

Usmanov’s connections to the Kremlin enrich him and enable him to lead a luxurious lifestyle. In proof of his wealth, Usmanov owns one of the largest superyachts in the world, known as the Dilbar… Named after Usmanov’s mother… The estimated value of this luxury yacht is believed to be between $600 and 735 Dilbar has two helipads and one of the world’s largest indoor swimming pools ever installed on a yacht.The estimated operating cost of Dilbar is $60 million annually, the Treasury Department said.

Photo: A US Treasury press release that included a photo of the private plane of Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who was sanctioned by the United States on March 3, 2022.
A press release from the US Treasury included a photo of the private plane of Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who was sanctioned by the United States on March 3, 2022.

Usmanov’s plane, an Airbus A340-300, is believed to have cost between $350 and $500 million, the statement said.

Shortly after arriving in Brussels for a full day of meetings on Thursday with NATO, the Group of Seven and their European Union counterparts, among other allies, Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken considered the new sanctions.

“These actions make clear that there is no hiding place for individuals and entities who support Russia’s blatant war against Ukraine,” he said in a statement.

The statement also said that the State Department imposes significant costs on Russian defense companies by sanctioning 22 defense-related companies. “These far-reaching sanctions target the entities that develop and produce combat aircraft, infantry fighting vehicles, electronic warfare systems, missiles and drones for the Russian army. These sanctions target the very core of Putin’s war machine,” he said.

ABC News’ Conor Finnegan contributed to this report.