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14 Mar, 2022 03:57

Australia sanctions Russian businessmen, including Chelsea club owner

Canberra has imposed a new raft of sanctions on people of “economic and strategic significance” to Moscow
Australia sanctions Russian businessmen, including Chelsea club owner

Australia has followed the UK’s lead, slapping sanctions on three dozen Russian individuals it said were of key importance to Moscow. The list includes Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, as well as prominent bankers and CEOs of energy companies.

Unveiling the restrictions on Monday, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne stated that the new punitive measures targeted “people who have amassed vast personal wealth and are of economic and strategic significance to Russia, including as a result of their connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

In addition to Abramovich, the blacklist features CEO of Russia energy giant Gazprom Alexey Miller, CEO of Rossiya Bank Dmitri Lebedev, head of Russia’s state-owned technology and defense company Rostec Sergey Chemezov and CEO of Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) Kirill Dmitriev. The RDIF was behind the production of Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine and its distribution abroad.

Canberra said that it, jointly with other western states, have introduced “over 460 sanctions” on Russian individuals and companies since the start of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine on February 24.

 “We will continue to coordinate closely with our partners to impose a high cost on Russia for its actions,” she added.

Moscow attacked its neighbor in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.

Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.