- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 3, 2022

President Biden said Thursday he is directly targeting Russian oligarchs with ties to President Vladimir Putin and their family members in a ratcheting up of sanctions against the Kremlin’s inner circle for the invasion in Ukraine.

Notably, the sanctions target Alisher Burkhanovich Usmanov, an extremely wealthy Russian whose yacht was just seized by German authorities, and Dmitry Peskov, who is Mr. Putin’s spokesman.

“We continue to impose very severe economic sanctions on Putin and all those folks around him,” Mr. Biden said at the start of a Cabinet meeting at the White House.

He said it is unfair that oligarchs are lining their pockets with Russian cash while Ukrainians are forced to cower from bombs in subway stations. The new round of sanctions is the next step in efforts to put the economic squeeze on Mr. Putin at home as he wages a brutal and unprovoked war against neighboring Ukraine.

“It’s had a profound impact already,” Mr. Biden said. “The goal is to maximize the impact on Putin and Russia and minimize the harm and loss to our allies and friends around the world. Our interest is in maintaining the strongest unified economic impact campaign on Putin and all of his people.”

The White House said 19 Russian oligarchs and 47 of their family members will face visa restrictions from the State Department, so their travel is limited.

“These individuals have enriched themselves at the expense of the Russian people, and some have elevated their family members into high-ranking positions. Others sit atop Russia’s largest companies and are responsible for providing the resources necessary to support Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” a White House fact sheet said. “These individuals and their family members will be cut off from the U.S. financial system, their assets in the United States will be frozen and their property will be blocked from use.”

The U.S. and allies also issued blocking sanctions on 26 Russia and Ukraine-based individuals who play central roles in spreading disinformation about the invasion of Ukraine.

“These entities have spread false narratives that advance Russian strategic objectives and falsely justify the Kremlin’s activities,” the White House fact sheet said.

Mr. Biden‘s announcement came at the top of a Cabinet meeting that will also focus on domestic concerns, including the fight against cancer, the opioid crisis and efforts to improve the mental health of veterans and children.

“We’re going to do everything we can to make everyday things more accessible and more affordable for the American people,” he said.

The White House earlier Thursday dismissed calls to block Russian imports oil, saying it would reduce supply and increase prices for consumers.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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