U.S. Sanctions Putin’s Daughters Over Reported War Crimes In Ukraine
TOPSHOT - Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council in Moscow on February 21, 2022. - President Vladimir Putin said on February 21, 2022, he would make a decision "today" on recognising the independence of east Ukraine's rebel republics, after Russia's top officials made impassioned speeches in favour of the move. (Photo by Alexey NIKOLSKY / Sputnik / AFP) (Photo by ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)
ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

The United States levied a host of new sanctions, including on Russia President Vladimir Putin’s daughters, on Wednesday following reports of war crimes the Russian army allegedly committed in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.

The Biden administration placed sanctions on Katerina Tikhonova and Maria Vorontsova, who are widely believed to be Putin’s daughters though the Russian president has not publicly acknowledged them as such. Putin rarely discusses his children except in vague references to his two daughters, according to The Washington Post.

The sanctions also hit the wife and adult child of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Maria Lavrova and Ekaterina Lavrova, respectively.

A senior administration official told reporters in a background phone conference Wednesday that U.S. officials are targeting the family members of top Russian officials because those officials are believed to be using their families to protect assets from other sanctions.

“We have reason to believe that Putin and many of his cronies and the oligarchs hide their wealth, hide their assets with family members, that place their assets and their wealth in the U.S. financial system but also many other parts of the world. And that’s why the coordination — the coordinated effort to freeze their assets and seize their physical luxury goods — their cars, their yachts, their homes, et cetera — that’s why it’s so important that we act together,” the administration official said.

The sanctions also covered Russia’s largest financial institution, Sberbank, and Russia’s largest private bank, Alfa Bank, and various other “critical major Russian state-owned enterprises,” according to an administration fact sheet. The sanctions on Sberbank include carve-outs for the Russian energy sector, the administration official confirmed.

The additional sanctions are part of international backlash Putin and Russia are facing after evidence of Russian war crimes was found in areas around Kyiv as the Russian military pulled back. Dozens of residents living in Bucha, Ukraine, when the Russian military took over are believed to have been executed by Russian soldiers.

Videos of Bucha have shown bodies of the slain left in the wake of the Russian military’s withdrawal. The dead have been shown partly stripped with their hands bound, and many witnesses to the Russian occupation have recounted incidents of Russian soldiers summarily executing unarmed Ukrainians.

In the aftermath of the discoveries, U.S. President Joe Biden called for Putin to be tried for war crimes.

“One comment to make before I start the day,” Biden said Monday. “You may remember I got criticized for calling Putin a war criminal. Well, the truth of the matter, you saw what happened in Bucha. This warrants — he is a war criminal. But we have to gather the information. We have to continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to continue to fight, and we have to gather all the details so this can be an actual, have a war crime trial.”

“This guy is brutal, and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous and everyone’s seen it,” Biden added.

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