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Biden targeting Putin’s daughters – here’s what we know

Russia's President Vladimir Putin. (Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS/Abaca Press/TNS)
April 06, 2022

President Joe Biden’s administration will sanction Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two daughters in a new series of sanctions intended to punish Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

A senior administration official told American Military News and other outlets that the Biden administration would impose new sanctions on Wednesday, including actions specifically targeting Putin’s daughters Maria Vorontsova (also known as Maria Putina) and Katerina Tikhonova. The sanctions would also target the wife of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and two major Russian financial firms, while prohibiting new U.S. investments in Russia.

Reports emerged on Tuesday that the European Union was also considering sanctions directly targeting Putin’s daughters. The senior administration official said the new U.S. sanctions are being brought forward in conjunction with similar actions by European allies and partners, indicating a combined effort to exert pressure on top Russian officials and their family members.

It is unclear what assets Putin’s daughters or Lavrov’s wife hold in U.S. and European countries and Bloomberg reported E.U. sanctions against Vorontsova and Tikhonova would likely only serve a symbolic purpose. By contrast, the senior administration said the U.S. has reason to believe Putin and other top Russian officials often hide their assets with their family members, who place those assets in U.S. financial systems and financial systems in other countries around the world.

“So that’s why the coordinated effort to freeze their assets and seize their physical luxury goods, their cars, their yachts, their homes, et cetera,” the senior administration official said. “That’s why it’s so important that we act together.”

Targeting family members is not a new development in the ongoing tit-for-tat sanction battle between the U.S. and Russia. Last month, Putin responded to U.S. sanctions by personally sanctioning President Biden and his son Hunter Biden, along with other current and former U.S. officials.

Along with sanctioning Putin’s daughters and Lavrov’s wife, the U.S. is implementing full blocking sanctions against Russia’s largest financial institution, Sberbank, and Russia’s largest private bank, Alfa Bank. Sberbank holds almost one-third of the overall assets in Russian banking sector and Alfa Bank is the fourth-largest Russian financial institution overall. The new sanctions will freeze any Sberbank or Alfa Bank assets connected to the U.S. financial system and block any U.S. individuals from doing business with them.

The senior administration official said Biden will also sign an executive order prohibiting any new U.S. investments in Russia.

The U.S. Treasury will also prohibit Russia from making any payments with funds subject to U.S. jurisdiction. This move essentially forces Russia to pay down sovereign debt through other assets and, according to the senior administration official, forces them to choose between draining its available funds to make debt payments or to default on those debts.

“Even if Russia taps into other sources of hard currency to remain current on its debt obligations, that will translate into fewer resources available to Putin to fund his war machine,” the senior administration official said.

The administration official said the U.S. Treasury will also publish a list on Thursday of critical entities that the Russian government has an ownership stake in, freeze assets those entities hold in U.S. jurisdiction, and prohibit U.S. individuals from transacting with those entities.