US unveils latest sanctions against Russia
In a press release, the US Treasury Department said it was also targeting “companies operating in Russia’s virtual currency mining industry, which is believed to be the third largest in the world”, noting that it was the first times that it “designated a virtual currency mining company”.
Additionally, the State Department is imposing a series of visa restrictions in response to the Russian war and to “undermine democracy in Belarus.”
Wednesday’s actions are the latest by the Biden administration intended to punish the Kremlin and its enablers for invading Ukraine in late February. The war has claimed the lives of hundreds of servicemen and civilians, and US and European officials say it could last for months. Experts who spoke to CNN said the sanctions are unlikely to immediately deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from continuing aggression in Ukraine.
The United States previously sanctioned Malofeyev in December 2014 for funding “separatist activities in eastern Ukraine” and for his close ties to “Aleksandr Borodai, Igor Girkin (aka Igot Strelkov) and the so-called Republic People’s Republic of Donetsk, all of whom have previously been sanctioned. as Specially Designated Nationals (SDN),” according to a statement from the Treasury at the time.
Malofeyev was again sanctioned by the United States on Wednesday “for acting or purporting to act for or on behalf, directly or indirectly,” of the Russian government. The Treasury Department also sanctioned members of Malofeyev’s “extensive global network of cutouts and proxies for attempting to evade sanctions and conduct malign influence activities,” including those involved in pro-Kremlin propaganda. Those sanctioned include entities in Russia, Moldova, Singapore and a number of Russian individuals, including Malofeyev’s son.
The Treasury Department also sued the Public Joint Stock Company Transkapitalbank (TKB) for being “at the heart of sanctions evasion” and its subsidiary, as well as companies in Russia’s virtual currency mining industry.
“The United States is determined to ensure that no asset, no matter how complex, becomes a mechanism for the Putin regime to offset the impact of sanctions,” the statement released Wednesday said.
In a separate statement Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the State Department was imposing visa restrictions on 635 Russian people, including members of the Russian Duma and “ten so-called ‘authorities’ of the so- saying Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.”
It also imposes visa restrictions on Russian officials Khusein Merlovich Khutaev, Nurid Denilbekovich Salamov and Dzhabrail Alkhazurovich Akhmatov, “for their involvement in a gross human rights violation perpetrated against human rights defender Oyub Titiev”.
Additionally, the State Department is targeting “17 individuals responsible for undermining democracy in Belarus” with visa restrictions, Blinken said.
“We will use all tools to promote accountability for human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law in Ukraine,” Blinken said.
Rachel Rizzo, senior researcher at the Atlantic Council’s European Center, said Wednesday that these sanctions “are really meaningful,” noting that the United States continues “to add different Russian oligarchs, different Russian banks that weren’t maybe- be not in the early rounds of penalties.”
“They will continue to cripple the Russian economy even if Putin continues to paint a rosy picture of what the Russian economy looks like,” she said. “There is no doubt that it should experience a major contraction next year.”
What happens afterwards?
There is also the possibility of a total ban on Russian energy. Inaction in this space is a major pitfall because Russia’s revenue from its global oil and gas sales keeps its economy afloat and allows the Kremlin to fund Ukraine’s war, some sanctions experts have argued.
The Biden administration has banned Russian energy imports from the United States, but it has not imposed sanctions on countries that still import Russian energy or taken steps to prevent Russian energy revenues from being lost. channeled into the war in Ukraine.
“Russia’s oil and gas sales haven’t been hampered that much by the sanctions, so Russia is still making about $1 billion a day selling energy around the world,” said Edward Fishman, another senior researcher at the Atlantic Council. “It continues to generate significant new revenue every day, which gives Russia a pretty big financial runway. They can continue to fund war and they can continue to fund government budgets.”
The United States has applied strict energy sanctions to one country in the recent past: Iran. Experts say using oil sanctions against Iran as a model could be effective because it would not send sudden shockwaves through the global economy, especially in European countries currently dependent on Russian oil.
“If you were to use the Iran sanctions as a model, the US policy of trying to reduce Iran’s oil exports over time so that it didn’t go from 100% to 0% It was introduced gradually, so it’s certainly plausible that you could have a similar phase, probably over a longer period, to force the world to reduce Russian energy,” said Christopher Miller, assistant professor of international history. at Tufts.
“I don’t think we should treat this as a light on, light off type issue, because there are intermediate steps along the way that you can go that would limit the impact on the oil market, and do so that the cost is something Western leaders are willing to bear.”
The Biden administration is working with countries that still depend on Russian energy to develop alternatives, according to administration officials. They argue that they are managing this effort in a way that works for European allies – without sanctioning close partners who have been effective in deploying sanctions against Russia.
European countries have pledged to phase out Russian energy. The EU has proposed a ban on Russian coal by August and Germany plans to phase out oil imports by the end of the year.
But other experts note that change for European countries may not come quickly enough if their feet are not kept to the fire.
“Germany banning imports by the end of the year gives Russia plenty of time to adapt and find other buyers – like China and India – who don’t plan to cut imports. oil from Russia,” Miller said.
Sanctions experts also say there is more trail when it comes to a few different areas such as non-financial Russian companies.
Overall, there are signs that the Russian economy is already suffering from the sanctions. The president of Russia’s central bank has warned lawmakers in recent days that sanctions “will now begin to affect real sectors of the economy more and more” and noted that “virtually all products” made in Russia rely on imported components, according to the White House.
However, experts feel that Putin will not immediately change his behavior because of the sanctions.
“As the Russian economy shrinks because of these (sanctions), Putin will have fewer resources at his disposal to fight the war in Ukraine, and the hope is that this will push him into some behavior down the line. However, I don’t think these sanctions will have an immediate effect,” Rizzo said.