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Biden administration unveils Russia sanctions in response to annexations

The Biden administration on Friday announced a new round of sanctions in response to Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian territories, targeting government and military officials and their family members.

The departments of Treasury, Commerce and State each announced separate sanctions intended to target decisionmakers in Moscow, allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin and entities that support the military-industrial complex in Russia.

“The United States unequivocally rejects Russia’s fraudulent attempt to change Ukraine’s
internationally recognized borders, including by holding sham ‘referenda’ in Ukraine’s Luhansk,
Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhya regions. This is a clear violation of international law and
the United Nations Charter,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

Blinken said the sanctions serve as a clear warning from the U.S. and its Group of Seven allies that there will be “costs for any individual, entity, or country that provides political or economic support to Russia as a result of its illegal attempts to change the status of Ukrainian territory.”

The Treasury Department is sanctioning Elvira Sakhipzadovna Nabiullina, the governor of Russia’s Central Bank and a former adviser to Putin. The department is also sanctioning more than 100 members of the Russian Duma.

Treasury and State are also sanctioning relatives of members of Russia’s National Security Council, including the wife and children of Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

The State Department is also imposing visa restrictions on Ochur-Suge Mongush, a Russian soldier who is accused of castrating and torturing a Ukrainian prisoner of war. The sanctions also target hundreds of other individuals, including members of the Russian military and Belarusian military officials.

The Commerce Department will also add 57 entities to its sanction list in a bid to restrict Russian access to key technologies and other materials that fuel the war effort in Ukraine.

The latest round of sanctions were publicized hours after Putin delivered a speech at the Kremlin in which he signed decrees to declare four Ukrainian regions as part of Russia. Putin cited the “will of millions of people” after referenda in each region that have been widely condemned as a “sham” and manipulated by the Kremlin.

The annexations, which experts said are the largest land grab since World War II, come as Putin has grown increasingly aggressive in his rhetoric since a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive earlier this month forced Russian forces to retreat.

Putin has made veiled references to Russia’s nuclear capabilities and its willingness to defend Russian territory. On Friday, he argued the U.S. “created a precedent” by using an atomic bomb in Japan at the end of World War II.

President Biden on Thursday said the United States would never recognize the territory Russia illegally seized from Ukraine.

“This so-called referenda was a sham — an absolute sham — and the results were manufactured in Moscow,” Biden said at an event with Pacific island leaders. “And the true will of the Ukrainian people is evident every day as they sacrifice their lives to save their people and maintain the independence of their country and in defense of freedom as well.”

The Biden administration has levied numerous sanctions against Russian officials, financial institutions and allies since it first launched its invasion of Ukraine roughly six months ago, targeting Putin himself, his closest advisers and major banks in a bid to cut off financing and crush the Russian economy.

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