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U.S. takes aim at "Putin's cronies" with new round of sanctions on Russian oligarchs

U.S. imposes new sanctions on Russian oligarchs
U.S. imposes new sanctions on Russian oligarchs 02:27

The White House announced Thursday it is expanding the list of Russian oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin who are being slapped with sanctions in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The move cuts the elites off from the U.S. financial system and freezes their assets, allowing officials to seize their luxury apartments, superyachts,  private jets and other property.

The individuals and family members targeted by these sanctions include Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov; Transneft president Nikolai Tokarev; Yevgeniy Prigozhin, Boris Rotenberg; Arkady Rotenberg; Sergei Chemezov, Igor Shuvalov and one of Russia's wealthiest billionaires, Alisher Usmanov. 

The Biden administration blames the oligarchs for providing the resources critical to supporting Putin's invasion.

"Treasury is committed to holding Russian elites to account for their support of President Putin's war of choice," said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. "Today, across the U.S. government and in coordination with partners and allies, we are demonstrating our commitment to impose massive costs on Putin's closest confidants and their family members and freeze their assets in response to the brutal attack on Ukraine." 

Usmanov, a close Putin ally, is also being sanctioned by the European Union. He has vast holdings in the Russian economy including in the metal and mining, telecommunications and information technology sectors. He and Putin allegedly have financial ties, too, according to the Treasury Department. 

Usmanov is the owner of the world's largest superyacht, the Dilbar, which includes two helipads and boasts one of the world's largest indoor pools on a boat. It's estimated to be worth between $600 and $735 million, and costs an estimated $60 million annually to maintain. 

FILE: Superyacht Dilbar, property of  Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov Photo provided by Treasury Department

Usmanov also is the owner of one of the largest privately owned planes in Russia. The Airbus A340-300, known as Bourkhan, is worth between $350 and $500 million. Under the sanctions, any transactions by Americans or in U.S. dollars related to the superyacht and aircraft, such as maintenance, staffing or landing, as well as docking fees, are prohibited. 

FILE: M-IABU, jet, property of Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov Photo provided by Treasury Department

Another oligarch facing U.S. sanctions is Nikolai Tokarev. He served with Putin in the KGB as an agent in East Germany in the 1980s and is now the president of the state-owned Russian pipeline company Transneft, which is responsible for transporting 90% of oil in Russia.

His wife Galin and daughter Maiya Tokareva are also facing sanctions. According to the Treasury Department, Tokareva's real estate empire has been valued at more than $50 million in Moscow alone and includes three companies, one of which holds an island villa built by the 19th century Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I in Croatia.

Prigozhin, who was previously sanctioned for attempts to interfere in U.S. elections, is also on the list. He is the financier of the Internet Research Agency and is accused of efforts to sow discord in Ukraine, as well as other attempts to spread disinformation around the globe. The IRA was also determined by the U.S. to have spread disinformation on social media in the U.S. during the 2016 election. His wife and two children are also being sanctioned.

The Biden administration also announced Thursday, 26 Russia- and Ukraine-based people and seven Russian entities are being sanctioned in connection with Russia's efforts to spread disinformation about its aggression in Ukraine. 

The latest round of sanctions come as the Justice Department on Wednesday launched a new task force to hold Russian elites and corrupt leaders accountable. The Treasury Department will share financial intelligence and other evidence with the Justice Department to support criminal prosecutions and assist with the seizure of assets.

Along with the latest round of sanctions, the U.S. is also imposing visa restrictions on 19 oligarchs and 47 of their family members and close associates. 

The State Department will also target 22 defense-related firms, which include companies that develop and produce military equipment such as fighter jets, missiles and other Russian military vehicles. 

Since the Russian invasion began, the Biden administration has rolled out several rounds of sweeping sanctions targeting Russian financial institutions and elites – including on the Central Bank of Russia, the country's largest financial institutions and on Putin himself.

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