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Biden Admin Launches ‘Mostly Symbolic’ Sanctions Against Putin, Report Says
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - JUNE 16: U.S. President Joe Biden (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet during the U.S.-Russia summit at Villa La Grange on June 16, 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland. Biden is meeting his Russian counterpart, Putin, for the first time as president in Geneva, Switzerland.
Peter Klaunzer – Pool/Keystone via Getty Images

Democrat President Joe Biden’s administration will sanction Russian President Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine but the sanctions may amount to little more than just a slap on the wrist, according to a report.

“It is extremely rare for the U.S. to sanction a sitting world leader, and the Kremlin had previously said it would consider sanctions on Putin himself to be a de facto severing of relations between the U.S. and Russia,” Axios reported. “The move[s] reflect Moscow’s new pariah status but are mostly symbolic, as it’s unclear what assets Putin and [Foreign Minister Sergey] Lavrov actually hold in the West after years of escalating sanctions against Russia.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday that the sanctions would be released later in the day but confirmed that Putin and Lavrov would be banned from traveling to the United States.

“The Secretary of Treasury will also be imposing full blocking sanctions on the Russian Direct Investment Fund–a state owned financial entity that functions as a sovereign wealth fund, which is supposed to attract capital into the Russian economy in high-growth sectors,” Psaki later added.

The Treasury Department later announced that in addition to Putin and Lavrov, it ” designated two additional Government of Russia (GoR) officials and members of Russia’s Security Council directly responsible for the further invasion of Ukraine: Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, Sergei Shoigu, and Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, First Deputy Minister of Defense, and General of the Army Valery Gerasimov.”

The Treasury Department explained the impact of the sanctions:

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the individuals above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. All transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons are prohibited unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or otherwise exempt. These prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person and the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

“Treasury is continuing to inflict costs on the Russian Federation and President Putin for their brutal and unprovoked assault on the people of Ukraine. As President Biden said yesterday, Putin rejected every good faith effort the United States and our allies and partners made to address our mutual security concerns through dialogue to avoid needless conflict and avert human suffering,” said Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen. “We are united with our international allies and partners to ensure Russia pays a severe economic and diplomatic price for its further invasion of Ukraine. If necessary, we are prepared to impose further costs on Russia for its appalling behavior on the world stage.”

Reuters reported that the European Union announced on Friday new sanctions on Putin in response to Russia’s invasion into Ukraine.

“EU states agreed to freeze any European assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister on Friday, as Ukraine’s leader pleaded for faster and more forceful sanctions to punish Russia’s invasion of his country,” the report said. “The move against Putin and his top diplomat, Sergei Lavrov, came as envoys of the EU’s 27 member states agreed on a new wave of measures – their second this week – to hit Russia’s elite and thwart operations of 70% of the country’s banking system.”

This report has been updated to include additional information. 

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