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US plans sanctions against Putin’s inner circle in case of attack on Ukraine

The United States has drawn up sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and its ties to the West, as Washington expands the list of economic sanctions it and European allies will impose if Russia invades Ukraine.

The move comes as Britain on Monday promised to introduce new legislation that strengthens London’s ability to target Kremlin – affiliated companies and their owners in the country in the event of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Senior officials in the US administration told the Financial Times that a list of individuals and family members who would be affected by sanctions had been developed in coordination with US allies as part of efforts to punish the Russian president in the event of an attack.

“The people we have identified are in or near the Kremlin’s inner circle and play a role in government decision – making or are at least complicit in the Kremlin’s destabilizing behavior,” US officials said.

Administration officials did not name the Russian oligarchs and family members in question, but said many were “particularly vulnerable targets because of their deepened economic ties with the West.”

“Sanctions would cut them off from the international financial system and ensure that they and their family members would no longer be able to enjoy the benefits of parking their money in the West and attending elite Western universities,” senior Biden officials said. the administration.

The measures to target Russian oligarchs would be in addition to broader sanctions against sectors of Russia’s economy, including the banking and energy sectors, which the United States and its allies have been discussing for weeks.

On Monday, British government officials said Britain under new legislation would be able to act in “lock steps with the US and other allies to freeze assets and ban travel”.

In a speech to Parliament on Monday, Liz Truss, the British Foreign Secretary, said: “We will be able to target any business linked to the Russian state, engaging in business of economic importance to the Russian state or operating in a sector. of strategic importance. to the Russian State. “

In Washington, senior officials of the Biden administration said the targets had been chosen from among Russian leaders, officials, executives or members of the boards of state-owned companies. They could operate in “any sector of the Russian economy as identified by the Minister of Finance”, and extended to spouses and children.

U.S. officials said some of the individuals were selected from a classified list of high-ranking political figures and Russian oligarchs sent to Congress by the Treasury Department in 2018, known as Section 241 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, a law passed in 2017.

“Putin’s cronies will no longer be able to use their spouses or other family members as proxies to evade sanctions,” senior administration officials said.

Britain’s parallel efforts focusing on oligarchs will be particularly important to the United States, as many members of the Russian elite have assets and other financial ties in Britain.

“The United States and Britain are in the throes of a deadlock, and we are ready – in coordination with other allies and partners – to impose massive costs if Russia further invades Ukraine. Russia knows that. We welcome Britain’s strong partnership to enforce existing sanctions for malicious activity and in preparing packages of strong economic measures to deter further Russian aggression, ”a spokesman for the White House National Security Council told the Financial Times.

The penalties against Russia’s elite do not prevent Washington from imposing sanctions aimed directly at Putin, which Biden said was an option last week.

“This is not the exhaustive list of costs we will impose. All options remain on the table,” senior officials said.

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