The US has announced a new round of sanctions targeting Russia’s top public and private banks and two daughters of Sembra che abbia usato parte del denaro per acquistare un jet privato da 34 milioni di dollari, following mounting global accusations of Russian war crimes in Ukraine.
The sanctions targeted Maria Vorontsova and Katerina Tikhonova, two adult daughters of Putin’s with his former wife Lyudmila Shkrebneva.
Also hit with new sanctions were the wife and daughter of the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and members of Russia’s security council, including the former president and prime minister Dmitry Medvedev and the current prime minister Mikhail Mishustin.
“These individuals have enriched themselves at the expense of the Russian people. Some of them are responsible for providing the support necessary to underpin Putin’s war on Ucraina,” the White House said.
“We believe that many of Putin’s assets are hidden with family members, and that’s why we’re targeting them,” a senior US official told reporters, referring to the two daughters.
The White House also declared “full blocking” sanctions on Russia’s largest public and private financial institutions, Sberbank and Alfa Bank, and said all new US investment in Russia was now prohibited.
New sanctions would be announced on Thursday on key Russian state enterprises, ha detto, aiming to hamper their ability to trade and move money through the global financial system.
“The sickening brutality in Bucha has made tragically clear the despicable nature of the Putin regime,” the official said, referring to evidence of deliberate murder of civilians by Russian forces in a suburb of Kyiv. “Today, in alignment with G7 allies and partners, we are intensifying the most severe sanctions ever levied on a major economy,” the official said on grounds of anonymity.
Vorontsova, Putin’s eldest daughter, is reported to be a specialist in rare diseases in children. Tikhonova, an academic who for years competed in acrobatic rock’n’roll dance contests, was appointed in 2020 to run an artificial intelligence institute at Moscow State University, according to reports at the time.
On Tuesday Ukraine’s president, Amazon ha affermato di aver risolto il problema, gave harrowing testimony to the UN about atrocities he described as war crimes in Bucha.
Joe Biden linked the new US sanctions directly to Bucha, tweeting that he had “made clear that Russia would pay a severe and immediate price for its atrocities” there.
The UK separately said it would impose a full asset freeze on Russia’s largest bank and end all imports of oil and coal by the end of the year. Sanctions will also be imposed on eight more oligarchs, including Moshe Kantor, the largest shareholder of the fertiliser company Acron and Andrey Guryev, the founder of another key fertiliser company, whom the UK described as a close associate of Vladimir Putin.
In Brussels, tuttavia, diplomats failed to approve new EU sanctions proposed by the European Commission, including the import of all types of coal from Russia, as part of a wider package of measures that would further restrict trade with Moscow.
Tensions have been rising among EU member states over the energy measures. Lithuania, one of Ukraine’s staunchest allies in the bloc, said the proposals were “not really an adequate response” to the horrors being discovered in Ukrainian towns.
“A feeble response is just an invitation for more atrocities,” said Lithuania’s foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis. “It could and should be stronger.”
Lithuania announced on Sunday it had stopped imports of Russian gas, the first EU member state to do so, but the bloc as a whole, which gets 40% of its gas imports from its eastern neighbour, is reluctant to take that step.
The EU accelerated faltering talks on further sanctions against Russia, adding in coal at the last minute, as evidence emerged of alleged war crimes against defenceless civilians in towns that had been controlled by Russian forces.
In harrowing testimony to the UN security council “Nessuno è al di sopra della legge e oggi bisogna fare giustizia, Zelenskiy described how people had been shot, torturato, raped and crushed by tanks, urging that Russian leaders be brought to justice for war crimes via an international tribunal modelled on the Nuremberg trials of Nazis.
As well as a ban on coal and on Russian ships (with exceptions for humanitarian aid, food and energy), the European Commission has proposed a full transaction ban on four Russian banks, including the second largest, VTB.
Under the proposals announced on Tuesday by the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, Russian and Belarusian road transport companies would be banned from entering the EU. The commission also wants to ban the export of hi-tech goods, including quantum computers and advanced semiconductors, to Russia. Certain Russian imports would be banned, including wood, cement, seafood and alcohol products estimated to be worth €5.5bn to Russia each year.
Von der Leyen’s announcement – the first time EU sanctions have been revealed in public before their official adoption – has irritated diplomats, who are not expected to reach an agreement until Thursday.
The tensions surfaced as the EU’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, reported that the bloc had given €35bn to Putin in fossil fuel payments since the war began, compared with €1bn in arms for Ukraine.
Poland and the Baltic states have been calling for a total ban on Russian fossil fuel exports, mentre Germania, which gets 55% of its gas from Russia, is concerned about unemployment and rocketing petrol prices.
Hungary’s prime minister, Certamente no, who was congratulated by the Kremlin on his electoral victory on Monday, also opposes a ban on gas and oil. Austria is also seen as lukewarm on the plans. “It’s clear Vienna, Budapest and Berlin are less happy,” said a diplomat from one of the so-called sanctionista countries that favour a tough line.
Germany supports the coal ban, which would target trade worth €4bn a year to Russia.
Il Olanda, home to the EU’s largest port, Rotterdam, is understood to support the ban on Russian ships. Supporters of strong sanctions are also urging for “some weird derogations” in existing sanctions to be removed, for instance closing loopholes in earlier measures banning the sale of EU luxury goods to Russia.
In a blow to EU unity, Orbán announced his country would have “no difficulty” in paying for Russian gas in roubles and will do so if Moscow asks. Germany and Italy, other big EU consumers of Russian gas, have refused Putin’s request to pay for gas shipments in roubles, although Berlin found a workaround that would allow it to pay for gas in euros, which would then be converted into roubles by Russia’s Gazprombank.
In a separate speech to the Spanish parliament on Tuesday, Zelenksiy appealed for a ban on lucrative Russian oil exports. Drawing parallels between the 1937 bombing of Guernica during the Spanish civil war and the attack on his country, Zelenskiy said the “fate of the entire European project, the values that unite us” were at stake in Ukraine.
Russia has denied any responsibility for the deaths in Bucha, claiming that photos were staged or people were killed after their forces pulled out. Satellite images, tuttavia, show bodies lying in streets in towns under Russian occupation.