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US announces fresh sanctions on Russian lawmakers, oligarchs, defense establishment 

Washington says latest wave of measures part of an effort to ‘strike at the heart of Russia’s ability to finance and carry out its warfare’

This combination of pictures shows US President Joe Biden, left, speaking at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2021; and Russian President Vladimir Putin holding his annual press conference in Moscow on December 19, 2019. (Jim Watson and Alexander Nemenov/AFP)
This combination of pictures shows US President Joe Biden, left, speaking at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2021; and Russian President Vladimir Putin holding his annual press conference in Moscow on December 19, 2019. (Jim Watson and Alexander Nemenov/AFP)

The United States on Thursday announced a fresh wave of sanctions against Russian lawmakers, oligarchs and defense companies in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

The measures, which involve freezing US-held assets, single out 328 members of Russia’s lower house State Duma and 48 defense companies “that fuel (President Vladimir) Putin’s war machine,” according to a statement released as US President Joe Biden attended summits in Brussels focused on the war.

Also targeted is Herman Gref, chief executive of Russia’s largest financial institution Sberbank.

“I’m announcing additional sanctions on over 400 Russian elites, lawmakers, and defense companies in response to Putin’s war of choice in Ukraine,” Biden tweeted.

“They personally gain from the Kremlin’s policies, and they should share in the pain,” he said.

A joint statement issued by the US Department of State and the Department of the Treasury said that the sanctions would also target Russia’s defense establishment with “long-lasting” effects.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, front right, looks toward US President Joe Biden, front left, at a group photo during an extraordinary NATO summit at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, March 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

“An important component of today’s action is designating Russian defense companies that are part of Russia’s defense-industrial base and that produce weapons that have been used in Russia’s war of aggression,” the statement read.

“By cutting off dozens of Russian defense companies from the US financial system, today’s action will have a deep and long-lasting effect on Russia’s defense-industrial base. We are targeting, and will continue to target, the suppliers of Russia’s war effort and, in turn, their supply chain,” it added.

“With our partners and allies, the United States aims to strike the heart of Russia’s ability to engage in warfare and carry out aggression against other countries, including Ukraine. We will continue to impose costs until Putin ends this unprovoked war against Ukraine.”

The statement noted that the US move aligned generally with those already taken by the European Union, Britain and Canada.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said: “The United States, with our partners and allies, is striking at the heart of Russia’s ability to finance and carry out its warfare and atrocities against Ukraine.”

In this file photo taken on March 10, 2022 US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen listens during a panel discussion with women entrepreneurs during her visit to the Mi Casa Resource Center n Denver, Colorado. (Jason CONNOLLY / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

Earlier on Thursday, Britain slapped sanctions on 59 more Russian individuals and entities, as well as six Belarusian enterprises, over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, targeting a shadowy mercenary firm and the world’s largest diamond producer.

The latest measures, against a range of key strategic industries and people, takes to more than 1,000 the number of Russian and Belarusian individuals and businesses sanctioned by London in recent weeks.

Britain also targeted six more banks, Russian Railways, the defense company Kronshtadt — the main producer of Russian drones — and diamond giant Alrosa, according to the foreign ministry.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and US President Joe Biden arrive for a G7 leaders meeting during a NATO summit, at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, March 24, 2022. (Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS / POOL / AFP)

The Wagner Group, an organization of Russian mercenaries that has been active in the Kremlin’s other recent conflict zones and has reportedly been tasked with assassinating Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, was also sanctioned.

The group has faced multiple accusations of carrying out crimes and atrocities around the world.

While the EU and UK have both moved forward with sanctions against Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich, freezing his assets in their jurisdiction, which include London’s Chelsea soccer team, the US has thus far refrained from following suit.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Zelensky asked Biden to leave Abramovich off Washington’s sanctions list in the hopes that the oligarch would be able to help mediate between Kyiv and Moscow.

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