WASHINGTON — The Biden administration announced new sanctions against additional Russian oligarchs and their families Thursday as U.S. officials prepare for the invasion of Ukraine to intensify in the coming days.
The sanctions are the latest move by President Joe Biden and European allies to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine after he launched an invasion last week.
The Biden administration said in a statement that the new sanctions would allow the seizure of yachts, luxury apartments, money and other assets belonging to Russian oligarchs in U.S. jurisdiction.
Among them is Dmitry Peskov, a prominent spokesperson for the Kremlin, as well as Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a wealthy Russian businessman known as “Putin’s chef.” The U.S. has said Prigozhin was deeply connected to the Russian campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
The metals and technology tycoon Alisher Burkhanovich Usmanov will also be hit. The White House described Usmanov as “one of Russia’s wealthiest individuals and a close ally of Putin” and said he and his family will be blocked from using his superyacht — which Germany just seized — in the U.S., as well as his private jet.
Other oligarchs sanctioned include Nikolai Tokarev, Boris Rotenberg, Arkady Rotenberg, Sergei Chemezov and Igor Shuvalov, as well as their spouses and children.
"These individuals have enriched themselves at the expense of the Russian people, and some have elevated their family members into high-ranking positions," the White House said. "Others sit atop Russia’s largest companies and are responsible for providing the resources necessary to support Putin’s invasion of Ukraine."
They and their family members, it continued, "will be cut off from the U.S. financial system, their assets in the United States will be frozen and their property will be blocked from use."
The U.S. will also impose visa restrictions on 19 more oligarchs and 47 of their family members. Their names were not immediately made public.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the sanctions were "significant steps that will impact the people who are closely around President Putin."
Michael McFaul, a U.S. ambassador to Russia in the Obama administration, said in an interview with MSNBC that while he applauded the new sanctions, they were unlikely to influence Putin.
The oligarchs "are rich because of Putin, not the other way around,” he said, adding, “The idea that you sanction an oligarch and the oligarch tells Putin to end the war — it won't work that way."
The European Union announced this week that it would sanction more than two dozen prominent Russians, including Usmanov and Peskov.