UK sanctions Putin's 'inner circle'
The UK has slapped sanctions on what it describes as the "inner circle" of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The new measures notably target Maria Vorontsova and Katerina Tikhonova, whom London describes as the “daughters” of the long time leader.
They will be subject to asset freezes and a travel ban. The new volley comes just two days after the US imposed fresh sanctions aimed at the women, as well as other members of the Russian “elite and their families.”
The sanctions target “the lavish lifestyles of the Kremlin’s inner circle,” the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office claimed in a Friday press release, but it is unclear whether either “daughter” has assets within reach of UK authorities, as both have kept a low public profile. Putin himself is famously private about his family life. For years, he has never denied nor confirmed reports in the media suggesting Vorontsova and Tikhonova were indeed his daughters. London’s publicly available list of sanctioned entities and individuals sets their ages at 35 and 36, respectively.
The new round of sanctions also freeze the assets and impose a travel ban on Ekaterina Sergeyevna Vinokurova, whom the UK refers to as the “daughter” of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
London estimates that £275 billion ($357.3 billion) in Russia’s assets are currently frozen as a result of international sanctions leveled on Russia by the UK and its allies in response to the Ukraine operation, and says its “analysis shows Russia is heading for the deepest recession since the collapse of the Soviet Union.”
Days earlier, the US also imposed sanctions on the individuals Washington referred to as Putin’s “children.”
Russia sent troops into Ukraine in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and end the conflict with the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. Moscow ended up recognizing the two as independent states, at which point they asked for military aid.
Russia demands 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 Donbass republics by force.