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Biden unleashes new ‘severe’ sanctions on Russia for invading Ukraine

President Joe Biden announces Russian sanctions from the White House, Feb. 24, 2022. (White House/Released)
February 24, 2022

President Joe Biden announced another round of U.S. sanctions against Russia on Thursday as Russia continues its brutal attack on Ukraine. Biden did not sanction Russian President Vladimir Putin personally, however, and he refused to answer why.

Biden said he’s imposing new severe sanctions that will cut off Russia’s assets in the U.S., including VTB Bank, which is Russia’s second-largest bank. The sanctions also target Russia’s elites, as well as its technology sector, which Biden said will “cut off half of Russia’s high-tech imports.”

“Every asset they have in America will be frozen,” Biden said. “This is going to impose severe cost on the Russian economy, both immediately and over time.”

However, Biden didn’t sanction Russian President Vladimir Putin himself – even ignoring a reporter’s question as to why he didn’t. He also didn’t cut Russia out of the international SWIFT payment system, which allows bank-to-bank transfers globally.

Biden did note he was “preparing to do more” and sanctioning Putin was “on the table” but did not indicate if sanctions on Putin or SWIFT sanctions would be among his future actions.

The Biden administration has repeated its intention to target Russia’s financial systems and export controls to cripple Russia’s industries of high-tech imports and semiconductors from the U.S.

“Putin is the aggressor,” Biden said. “Putin chose this war, and now he and his country will bear the consequences.”

Biden’s full list of sanctions announced Thursday include:

  • Severing the connection to the U.S. financial system for Russia’s largest financial institution, Sberbank, including 25 subsidiaries.
  • Full blocking sanctions on Russia’s second largest financial institution, VTB Bank (VTB), including 20 subsidiaries.
  • Full blocking sanctions on three other major Russian financial institutions: Bank Otkritie, Sovcombank OJSC, and Novikombank- and 34 subsidiaries.
  • New debt and equity restrictions on thirteen of the most critical major Russian enterprises and entities. 
  • Additional full blocking sanctions on Russian elites and their family members: Sergei Ivanov (and his son, Sergei), Andrey Patrushev (and his son Nikolai), Igor Sechin (and his son Ivan), Andrey Puchkov, Yuriy Solviev (and two real estate companies he owns), Galina Ulyutina, and Alexander Vedyakhin. 
  • Costs on Belarus for supporting a further invasion of Ukraine.
  • Sweeping restrictions on Russia’s military to strike a blow to Putin’s military and strategic ambitions.
  • Russia-wide restrictions to choke off Russia’s import of technological goods critical to a diversified economy and Putin’s ability to project power. 
  • Historical multilateral cooperation that serves as a force multiplier in restricting more than $50 billion in key inputs to Russia- impacting far more than that in Russia’s production.

Biden’s announcement came less than 24 hours after Putin announced Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine — a declaration of war — and immediately began sending in troops, tanks, and airstriking targets inside Ukraine.

By the first few hours of Russia’s assault on Ukraine, 25 cities had been attacked with missiles, and at least 40 Ukrainians were reported dead.