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US adds 500 sanctions on Russia's military, indicts Russian businessmen amid conflict.

US President Joe Biden  Photo: Anna Moneymaker & Bloomberg

The Treasury Department is set to impose over 500 new sanctions on Russia and its military, maintaining financial pressure as the conflict enters its third year. These sanctions mark the largest single set of penalties since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The move follows recent arrests and indictments by the Justice Department targeting Russian businessmen, including the head of Russia's second-largest bank. The Biden administration seeks to express steadfast support for Ukraine, despite challenges from Republican lawmakers blocking additional military aid.

The anticipated sanctions, promised by the White House after the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, will specifically target President Vladimir Putin, held responsible for Navalny's demise. The State Department is also expected to announce additional sanctions. Thousands of sanctions have already been imposed on various Russian entities since the beginning of the conflict.

The Justice Department's recent cases include charges against sanctioned Russian banker Andrei Kostin and two US-based facilitators, Vadim Wolfson and Gannon Bond. Kostin, president of VTB Bank, faces accusations of evading sanctions and money laundering to support superyachts, while also attempting to conceal ownership of a Colorado property. The arrests of Wolfson and Bond were part of the Justice Department's ongoing efforts to enforce economic restrictions on Russia and its billionaires.

The KleptoCapture task force, responsible for enforcing economic restrictions, has secured court orders for the restraint, seizure, and forfeiture of nearly $700 million in assets over the past two years. More than 70 individuals have been charged with violating sanctions and export controls. Despite efforts to cripple Russia's economy, President Putin has mitigated the impact by collaborating with Iran and others. The International Monetary Fund reports an unexpectedly healthy growth in Russia's economy.

Simultaneously, an indictment was unsealed in Washington, DC, charging Vladislav Osipov with bank fraud related to operating a luxury yacht owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. The State Department has offered a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to Osipov's arrest or conviction.

The US and its allies continue efforts to support Ukraine, but the legal process for asset confiscation plays out over years, reflecting the intricate nature of holding individuals accountable and disrupting the flow of funds supporting the ongoing conflict.

Feb. 23, 2024 1:21 p.m. 1885

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