US to target Putin’s inner circle with sanctions in event of Ukraine invasion

Washington official says sanctions list will comprise oligarchs and their family members

Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow on Monday. Photograph: Mikhail Metzel/APVladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow on Monday. Photograph: Mikhail Metzel/AP

in London and in MoscowMon 31 Jan 2022 07.21 EST

Washington and its allies have prepared a list of Russian elites in or near Vladimir Putin’s inner circle who would be hit with economic sanctions if the Kremlin were to order an invasion of Ukraine, according to a US briefing.

The language in the briefing by a US official to Reuters is notably similar to that used on Sunday by the UK foreign secretary, Liz Truss, who said Britain would introduce legislation to allow banks, energy companies and “oligarchs close to the Kremlin” to be targeted by London, and makes clear the targeting is coordinated internationally.

Names were not made available but the official said the sanctions list would consist of elite figures – or oligarchs – plus their family members.

“There is a broad list of individuals we can pull from,” the official told Reuters, noting that some would be from a classified list of senior Russian political figures and oligarchs outlined in section 241 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act in a report sent to the US Congress in 2018.

“Putin’s cronies will no longer be able to use their spouses or other family members as proxies to evade sanctions. 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 official added.

The UK’s announcement of new legislation targeting Russian entities and people drew a fierce response from the Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, who described the proposed measures as an “outright attack on business” and threatened retaliation.

“The statements made in London are very disquieting,” Peskov said during a telephone briefing. “I believe they not just make us, our companies, worry, they also demonstrate a significant degree of London’s unpredictability, which is a reason for serious concern of international financial institutions and business entities.”

Peskov did not specifically respond to threats against wealthy Russians close to Putin, but he described the threat of sanctions as illegitimate, saying they would harm Russian and British business interests.

“We should call a spade a spade: sanctions are something legitimate, formalised by a resolution of the UN security council, while here we are dealing with an outright attack on business,” he said during the call.

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