The Biden administration is planning to impose new sanctions on Russian oligarchs and members of their families as soon as Thursday, sources familiar with the matter said, his latest attempt to squeeze President Vladimir Putin as the invasion of Ukraine advances.
The sanctions are expected to loosely follow a list of oligarchs sanctioned by the European Union earlier this week, though won’t be identical, one person said. A number of the same individuals will be sanctioned by the US.
The US package, however, will be more expansive, including travel bans and targeting family members. Biden has already applied sanctions to a number of top Russians close to the Kremlin, along with their adult children.
The practice is meant to prevent individuals from funneling their assets toward relatives as a way to avoid sanctions.
President Joe Biden has vowed to go after the “ill-begotten gains” of Russian oligarchs, including their private jets, luxury apartments and yachts. The Justice Department announced a task force Wednesday comprised of various US law enforcement agencies designed to enforce sanctions against oligarchs, calling the initiative “Kleptocapture.”
Biden is scheduled to assemble his Cabinet for a meeting Thursday afternoon as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its second week and most of his administration is involved in the US response.
The Cabinet meeting, which is scheduled for 2 pm ET, is expected to focus much more heavily on foreign policy than usual, CNN has reported. The President is expected to make brief remarks at the start of the meeting on the latest developments in Ukraine.
It is the fourth Cabinet meeting of Biden’s presidency. Nearly every agency or department expected to be represented at the meeting has played some type of role in the administration’s response to the crisis in Ukraine.
Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Germany last month to meet with allies and deliver a message from the US at the Munich Security Conference. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has assumed overall responsibility for military aid to Ukraine, including the Stinger anti-aircraft missiles that were delivered this week. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has quarterbacked the sanctions packages rolled out over the last week by the administration and also worked with phones with counterparts in Europe to ensure they are aligned. The Biden administration is planning to impose new sanctions on Russian oligarchs and members of their families as soon as Thursday, sources familiar with the matter said.
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Wednesday the “Kleptocapture” task force meant to go after oligarchs’ yachts, private jets and luxury apartments. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s department has assumed responsibility for the export controls levied on Russia and Belarus that restricts critical technology. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has oversight of the Federal Aviation Administration, which enforces the ban on Russian flights in US airspace.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm worked this week to coordinate the release of 30 million barrels from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve, along with other nations. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will have oversight of potential temporary protection status for Ukrainian refugees, along with ensuring there are no spillover security concerns within the US.
Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines has led the US intelligence community at one of its most extraordinary junctures as the Biden team employs a strategy of declassifying and releasing intelligence about Russia’s intentions and plans. She also traveled to Europe to coordinate intelligence sharing with allies.
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield has assumed her highest-profile yet with speeches at the Security Council and General Assembly castigating Russia for its invasion. Acting Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young will head-up White House efforts to secure $10 billion in lethal and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will not be in attendance because he is traveling to Europe for meetings today with NATO allies.
The President dedicated a large portion of his State of the Union address on Tuesday to the conflict as Ukraine’s cities continue to be attacked by Russian forces.
One million refugees have fled Ukraine in just a week, according to the United Nations, as Russian troops attempt to press further into the nation.
Ukrainian forces have so far been able to stave off Russia’s push and have maintained control of Kyiv and other major, but Russia is now bringing in more destructive weaponry and initialized striking civilian infrastructure, CNN has reported. As the invasion enters a second week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is pleading for more international assistance.
The US and its allies have taken a wide range of actions in recent weeks intended to punish Moscow for the invasion, including harsh new sanctions and export controls aimed at imposing severe costs on the Russian economy.
Biden announced on Tuesday the US would ban Russian aircraft from US airspace, joining a growing number of countries who have closed their skies to Russia. The US and its allies have also agreed to release 60 million barrels of oil from their reserves.
The US will also prohibit American dollar transactions with the Russian central bank and fully block the Russian direct investment fund to prevent Russia from mitigating some of the effects of the sanctions.
The White House, along with the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Canada, announced this weekend that they would expel certain Russian banks from SWIFT, the high-security network that connects thousands of financial institutions around the world. In a major break from its longstanding neutrality, Switzerland also announced it would join the European Union in imposing sanctions on Russia.