US unveils sanctions against Putin and Lavrov
The United States has slapped sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, mirroring an earlier decision by the European Union and British government in retaliation for Moscow’s military action in Ukraine.
“President Putin and Minister Lavrov are directly responsible for Russia’s unprovoked and unlawful further invasion of Ukraine, a democratic sovereign state,” the department said in a statement on Friday, adding that it is “exceedingly rare for Treasury to designate a head of state.”
The newly-updated list of Russian officials sanctioned by Washington also includes Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov.
Eleven members of the Russian Security Council, including Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service Sergey Naryshkin and Secretary of the Russian Federation Security Council Nikolai Patrushev, had already been subject to the US sanctions, with Washington saying that it “will designate more in the future if Russia’s unprovoked campaign against Ukraine does not immediately conclude.”
The sanctions envision the freezing of any US-based assets of those targeted. American citizens were also barred from all transactions involving “any property or interests” of the blacklisted individuals. Though White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki hinted at a press conference earlier on Friday that the penalties would include a travel ban to the United States, the Treasury Department did not mention any travel restrictions in its statement.
It’s unclear what the sanctions entail for Putin and Lavrov exactly. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova stated on Friday that neither of the two politicians possesses any assets outside Russia.
The European Union and other allied nations have moved ahead with similar sanctions of their own, with the EU and Britain also personally targeting Putin and Lavrov with penalties.
Moscow launched a “special military operation” in the Donbass early on Thursday morning at the request of the region’s recently recognized Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) People’s Republics, vowing to “demilitarize” Ukraine and defend the people against “aggression” by Kiev. The mission has so far targeted military sites across the country, while Russian troops have since advanced into major cities and are reportedly closing in on the capital.