America announces sanctions against Russia’s largest banks and Putin’s adult children

April 7, 2022

The United States and its allies, seeking to punish Russia for the killings of Ukrainian civilians, moved on April 6 to impose full sanctions against Russia’s largest financial institutions and to block access to U.S.-held financial assets by family members and close associates of President Vladimir Putin, reports The New York Times.

A senior Administration official—detailing the suite of sanctions for reporters but not authorized to speak publicly—said that the United States, working with the Group of 7 and the European Union, had imposed “full blocking” sanctions against SberBank, the largest financial institution in Russia, and Alfa Bank, one of the country’s largest privately owned banks.

Sberbank is the main artery in the Russian financial system and holds over one-third of the country’s financial assets. In February, the U.S. Treasury had announced limited sanctions against Sberbank, but Wednesday’s sanctions, an official said, will effectively freeze relations between the bank and the United States financial system.

The Administration also announced sanctions against two adult daughters of. Putin. Others connected to Russian officials close to Putin will also face sanctions, including the wife and daughter of Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, and members of Russia’s security council, including Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev.

The official said that those people would be effectively cut off from the U.S. banking system and any assets held in the United States.

The Treasury also will block Russia from making debt payments with assets that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction—a move that will force Russia to find new sources of funding outside its frozen central bank funds. The end result, the official said, was that Russian citizens will return to Soviet-era living standards of the 1980s, and Putin will find himself increasingly a pariah.

So far, Putin has resisted increasingly harsh consequences—continuing his invasion of Ukraine even as Western nations move to freeze him out of the international economic order.

The Biden Administration had been under pressure to announce new actions against Russia since reports surfaced of Russian soldiers’ indiscriminately killing Ukrainian civilians in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha. On Monday, President Biden had promised new sanctions and called Putin a “war criminal,” although he did not call the violent acts in Bucha genocide.

On Wednesday, Biden was scheduled to sign an executive order that bans all new investment in the Russian Federation by U.S. citizens, wherever they are, the official said.

Research contact: @nytimes