US will target Russian defense sector, lawmakers, and elites with new sanctions

A man walks past a wall with posters depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Warsaw, Poland, on Thursday, March 24, 2022. Ukraine President Volodymr Zelenskyy called on people worldwide to gather in public Thursday to show support for his embattled country as he prepared to address U.S. President Joe Biden and other NATO leaders gathered in Brussels on the one-month anniversary of the Russian invasion. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Petr David Josek/AP

BRUSSELS — The United States will impose new sanctions on Russian defense companies and hundreds of lawmakers and elites in response to President Vladimir Putin’s military assault on Ukraine.

The measures add new weight to the slate of coordinated sanctions that Western allies have already imposed on Russia, driving the nation’s currency into the ground, prompting businesses to flee Russian markets, and launching a crackdown on the villas and yachts of wealthy oligarchs.

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A senior administration official said the move would target Russia’s defense industrial base, with sanctions imposed on 48 large, state-owned enterprises producing weapons that have been used in its attacks on Ukraine, as well as 328 Duma members, Herman Gref, the head of Sberbank, Russia’s largest financial institution, and billionaire oligarch Gennady Timchenko, his companies, and family members.

In addition, the U.S. will take steps to blunt Russia’s central bank from attempting to use its international reserves, including gold, to prop up its economy during the war.

President Joe Biden’s deputy national security adviser Daleep Singh took aim at Russia’s “Potemkin” market opening after nearly a month of closure in a statement Thursday, calling the move a “charade” that fails to meet international standards. He accused Moscow of planning to prop up the limited number of relisted shares.

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“This is not a real market and not a sustainable model — which only underscores Russia’s isolation from the global financial system,” Singh said. The U.S. and its allies and partners would work to isolate Russia from the global economy further as long as it carries on its war in Ukraine, he added.

Biden is also establishing an initiative with leaders of the Group of Seven largest economies and the European Union to focus on limiting the ability of individuals to evade sanctions. The American president is meeting with trans-Atlantic leaders in Brussels Thursday to discuss additional actions to punish Russia for its attacks.

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