Extensive sanctions imposed by U.S. targeting over 500 individuals and entities in Russia

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24th February 2024 – (Hong Kong) The United States issued far-reaching sanctions on Friday (23rd February) to commemorate the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The comprehensive measures targeted over 500 individuals and entities, including the Mir payment system, Russian financial institutions, the military-industrial base, sanctions evasion, and future energy production.

Both the Treasury and State departments stated that the sanctions also encompassed officials implicated in the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. U.S. President Joe Biden, in a statement, emphasised that the action seeks to hold Russia accountable for its actions in the war and the tragic demise of Navalny. Despite facing acute shortages of ammunition and delays in U.S. military aid from Congress, Washington remains committed to supporting Ukraine.

Biden asserted that these sanctions would exact a higher toll on Russian President Vladimir Putin for his aggressive actions abroad and repression within the country. The U.S. Treasury Department targeted nearly 300 individuals and entities, while the State Department focused on over 250, and the Commerce Department added more than 90 companies to the Entity List. These numbers reflect an increase from last year’s sanctions, where over 200 individuals and entities were targeted, and 90 companies were placed on the list on the war’s first anniversary.

The United States’ sanctions were coordinated with those from European Union member nations and Britain, underscoring the unified stance against Russian aggression. These actions represent a fraction of the thousands of targets announced by the U.S. and its allies since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24th February, 2022. The invasion has resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of lives and the destruction of cities.

Despite the unprecedented sanctions, Russia’s export-focused economy, valued at $2.2 trillion, has proven more resilient than anticipated by both Moscow and the West. Biden’s administration has already exhausted previously approved funds for Ukraine, and a request for additional financial support is currently pending in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stressed the importance of sustaining support for Ukraine while simultaneously weakening Russia’s war machine. Yellen called on Congress to join forces with global allies to provide Ukraine with the means to defend itself against Putin’s brutal assault on its freedom.

The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on the state-owned National Payment Card System, operator of the Mir payment system, citing proliferation concerns and Russia’s efforts to evade international sanctions. Mir payment cards gained prominence after U.S. rivals suspended their operations in Russia following Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine, rendering their payment cards inoperative abroad.

The sanctions also targeted several Russian banks, investment firms, venture capital funds, and fintech companies. Notably, SPB Bank, owned by SPB Exchange, Russia’s second-largest stock exchange specialising in trading foreign shares, was among the entities affected.

Additionally, the United States focused on Russia’s future energy production and exports, particularly the Arctic-2 LNG project in Siberia. The State Department singled out Russia’s Zvezda shipbuilding company, which is involved in constructing specialized LNG tankers for Arctic-2 LNG exports.

Furthermore, the United States imposed sanctions on entities based in China, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, India, South Korea, and Liechtenstein for aiding Russia in evading Western sanctions and facilitating prohibited activities.

The State Department also targeted three officials from the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service, accusing them of being connected to Navalny’s death. One of the officials, the deputy director, allegedly instructed prison staff to impose harsher treatment on Navalny. Navalny, who was serving a lengthy sentence, tragically fell unconscious and died suddenly last week at the “Polar Wolf” penal colony above the Arctic Circle. President Biden directly attributed his death to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

The U.S. actions also encompassed individuals involved in forcibly transferring or deporting Ukrainian children to camps promoting indoctrination in Russia, Belarus, and Crimea.