US imposes new sanctions on Russia, as Biden denounces ‘major war crimes’

President Joe Biden speaks at the North America's Building Trades Unions (NABTU) Legislative Conference at the Washington Hilton in Washington, Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)
President Joe Biden speaks at the North America's Building Trades Unions (NABTU) Legislative Conference at the Washington Hilton in Washington, Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)

WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – The US announced new economic measures against Russia following the shocking revelations of Russian atrocities in Ukraine, which emerged as Russian forces withdrew from the Kiev area to refocus their faltering military efforts on the east of the country.

Speaking on Wednesday to a domestic audience—a conference of North America’s Building Trades Unions—President Joe Biden began his remarks by denouncing Russian actions in Ukraine. They have shocked and outraged Americans and Biden was repeatedly interrupted with applause from his audience.

“I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures from Bucha,” Biden said, “bodies left in streets as Russian troops withdrew, some shot in the back of the head with their hands tied behind their backs; civilians executed in cold blood; bodies dumped into mass graves.”

“The sense of brutality and inhumanity left for all the world to see unapologetically,” Biden said. “There’s nothing less happening than major war crimes.”

New Sanctions: Russian Banks

Biden’s statement was accompanied by new economic measures against Moscow. Americans are now prohibited from making any investments in Russia. In addition, the Treasury Department announced a raft of new sanctions. 

They include “full blocking sanctions” on Sberbank, Russia’s largest state-owned bank, and Alfa-Bank, Russia’s largest private bank, a Treasury Department statement explained.

The sanctions on Sberbank include 42 of its subsidiaries. Almost all are located in Russia. However, Sberbank Europe AG is located in Austria, while SB Securities SA, a mutual and pension fund linked to Sberbank, is located in Luxembourg.

Both are sanctioned, as is Arimero Holding Limited, a financial, insurance and holding company in Cyprus, along with Sber Vostok Limited in Kazakhstan. 

The US is also sanctioning six Alfa-Bank subsidiaries. Three are located in Russia, while three others are located abroad. The latter includes a Cyprus-based business: Alfa Capital Markets, LTD, the Amsterdam Trade Bank NV in the Netherlands, and Alfa-Bank JSC in Kazakhstan. 

New Sanctions: Putin and Lavrov Families

Also sanctioned are family members of two senior Russian officials: President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The US imposed sanctions on Putin and Lavrov themselves on February 25, the day after Russia invaded Ukraine. 

On Wednesday, the Treasury Department announced that it was targeting Putin’s two adult daughters: Katerina Vladimirovna Tikhonova and Maria Vladimirovna Vorontsova.

Although it provided no further information on Vorontsova, the Treasury Department described Tikhonova as a “tech executive” whose “work supports the GoR [Government of Russia] and defense industry.” She “leads state-funded programs that have received billions of dollars from the Kremlin toward genetics research and are personally overseen by Putin.”

Lavrov’s wife and daughter have also been sanctioned, but little information about them has been provided.

New Sanctions: Russian Security Council Members

The US earlier sanctioned the most senior members of Russia’s security establishment, like Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and the head of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Alexander Bortnikov, at the same time that it sanctioned Putin and Lavrov immediately after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Wednesday’s announcement included 21 other members of the Russian Security Council. Notable among them is Dmitry Medvedev, who is now the Council’s Deputy Chairman. Medvedev previously held the position of the Russian president as well as prime minister, assuming each post as Putin had the other.

Also sanctioned on Wednesday was Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Minister of Internal Affairs and also a member of Russia’s Security Council.