The Joe Biden administration is readying sanctions on Russians with links to the Kremlin that would be triggered if Russian President Vladimir Putin invades Ukraine.
The administration has identified Russians who are “in or near the inner circles of the Kremlin and play a role in government decision making or are at a minimum complicit in the Kremlin’s destabilizing behavior,” a senior Biden administration official said Monday.
The administration is preparing to block assets of these individuals and members of their families in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The official did not provide names of those who would be subject to sanctions but stated the list is “broad” and draws in part from a classified report the Treasury Department submitted to Congress in 2018, under the Donald Trump administration, as required by a 2017 sanctions law.
That report named senior Russian government officials, political leaders and oligarchs.
The sanctions would be imposed under an executive order that Biden signed in April.
“Many of these individuals are particularly vulnerable targets because of their deepened financial ties with the west,” the senior Biden administration official said, adding, “Sanctions would cut them off from the international financial system and ensure that they and their family members will no longer able to enjoy the perks of parking their money in the west and attending elite western universities.”
The sanctions list, which was first reported by CNN on Monday, is part of a broader effort by the Biden administration to signal harsh penalties on Russia if it were to invade Ukraine, something US officials have warned could be imminent.
The Biden administration has also threatened to impose export controls that would prevent Russia from gaining access to key US technologies, a move that officials say would hurt Moscow in key sectors like artificial intelligence, defense and aviation.
The US is also reportedly preparing sanctions hutting Russian financial institutions, but the administration has not laid out the full scope of what penalties Russia would face.
The senior administration official announced Monday that “all options remain on the table.”
The Biden administration has been consulting with European allies on possible sanctions. US officials are cognizant that major sanctions levied on Russia could also have an adverse impact on European economies.
Meanwhile, the US called a United Nations Security Council meeting on Monday to discuss Russian aggression toward Ukraine to put pressure on Moscow to back down.
“The United States and our Allies and partners continue to prepare for every scenario,” President Biden said in a statement Monday morning as the meeting got underway.
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has also said a new package of sanctions, allowing the UK government to impose a broader range of restrictions on Russia, will be ready by February 10.
“This package that we are putting together in legislation will be in place by the 10th of February so we are able to enact wide-ranging sanctions in broad categories that really target anybody that is providing strategic or economic support to the Russian regime,” Truss told the UK House of Commons.
“There will be nowhere to hide,” Truss added.
She stated assets of Russian companies in the United Kingdom may be frozen in accordance with a new bill on anti-Moscow sanctions.
“We will make that those who share responsibility for the Kremlin’s aggressive and destabilizing action will share in beating a heavy cost. Their assets in the UK will be frozen. No UK business or individual will be able to transact with them. And should they seek to enter the UK, they will be turned back,” Truss told lawmakers.
Russia has repeatedly denied Western accusations of preparing for an invasion of Ukraine. Moscow has been stressing that it has the right to move troops within its national territory and it is not threatening anyone, at the same time pointing out NATO’s increased activity near Russian borders.
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday Moscow is calling on Washington and its European allies to give up their policy of whipping up tension around Ukraine and assume a constructive stance.
“The hysteria that the United States is instigating is, indeed, leading to hysteria in Ukraine where people are almost packing frontline bags. This is obvious and this is a fact. This is the downside of this very malicious and damaging campaign being run by Washington. We consistently criticize this stance and call on Washington and its allies on the European continent to give up this policy and assume a constructive, calm and balanced approach,” the Russian presidential spokesman stated, responding to a request to comment on Western media reports that the White House was dissatisfied with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s position on the threat of Russia’s alleged invasion of Ukraine.
“Regrettably, American media outlets have been publishing a large amount of unverified, distorted and deliberately false and inflammatory information in recent months about what is happening in and around Ukraine. This is becoming obvious actually for all,” Peskov continued, adding that these publications should be treated “correspondingly.”
Meantime, Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya told reporters the option of invading Ukraine is not being considered by Moscow. He stressed Russia views claims of alleged Russian invasion of Ukraine currently in the works as “fantasies”. He stated Russian representatives never expressed any threats with respect to preparing to invade Ukraine.