US announces new Russian sanctions

BRUSSELS — Group of Seven leaders have announced they are restricting the Russian Central Bank’s use of gold in transactions, while the U.S. announced a new round of sanctions targeting more than 400 elites and members of the Russian State Duma.

Previously, sanctions against Russian elites, the country’s Central Bank and President Vladimir Putin did not impact Russia’s gold stockpile, which Putin has been accumulating for several years. Russia holds roughly $130 billion in gold reserves, and the Bank of Russia announced Feb. 28 that it would resume the purchase of gold on the domestic precious metals market.

White House officials said Thursday the move will further blunt Russia’s ability to use its international reserves to prop up Russia’s economy and fund its war against Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration announced more sanctions targeting 48 state-owned defense companies, 328 members of the Duma, Russia’s lower parliament, and dozens of Russian elites. The Duma as an entity was also named in the new sanctions.

The G-7 and the European Union also announced a new effort to share information and coordinate responses to prevent Russia from evading the impact of sanctions that western nations have levied since the Feb. 24 invasion.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

A White House official says the U.S. is trying to help its Eastern European allies by taking in up to 100,000 of the 3.5 million Ukrainians refugees who have fled Russia’s invasion of their country.

Among the first Ukrainians refugee coming to the U.S. will be those who have family already in the United States, senior Biden administration officials said in a conference call with reporters.

U.S. refugee efforts will also focus on helping refugees who are considered particularly vulnerable following the Russian invasion, groups that include LGBTQ people, those with medical needs as well as journalists and dissidents, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the efforts ahead of their formal release.

The officials said further details of the refugee effort will be released later but they don’t expect to raise the overall cap of 125,000 refugees, from around the world, for budget year 2022 that the administration set last year in consultation with Congress.

That’s because the 100,000 Ukrainians can come in through other admission programs such as humanitarian parole, which was used to bring in thousands of Afghans following the U.S. withdrawal in August.

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