US ready to target Kremlin leadership directly with personal sanctions, says White House
The United States will impose personal sanctions against the Kremlin’s inner circle and their families if Russia further invades Ukraine, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing on Jan. 31 in Washington DC.
According to Psaki, the proposed sanctions package was prepared in tandem with U.S. partners and allies, and are intended to affect officials at the highest echelons of power in Russian government, potentially up to and including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The individuals we’ve identified are in or near the inner circle of the Kremlin and play a role in government decision-making or are, at a minimum, complicit in the Kremlin’s destabilizing behavior,” Psaki said.
“Many of these individuals are particularly targets because of their deepened financial ties with the West.”
She added that these personal sanctions are only “one piece of our effort to hit Russia from all angles,” with other measures targeting Russia’s financial system in general.
U.S. President Joe Biden has defined these measures as “the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go ahead and do what people believe he may do.”
On Jan. 14, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced a bill that would sanction Putin and Russia’s economy, should Moscow choose to for a major offensive against Ukraine.
Biden’s Democratic party has also introduced a similar legislative Russia sanctions package.
Russia has deployed more than 130,000 troops and offensive weapons near the Ukrainian border and in the temporarily occupied parts of the country, according to the latest intelligence estimate by the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
International media have speculated that Russia may invade Ukraine in early 2022, in an operation that could involve up to 200,000 Russian soldiers.
The situation on Ukraine's eastern border is a matter of deep concern for both U.S. and European officials. According to U.S. President Joe Biden, the White House is looking at a range of options to dissuade Russia from attacking Ukraine.
While Russia has denied plans to invade, it has also refused to provide assurances that it would not do so, instead issuing its demand for so-called “security guarantees” to the United States and NATO.
Prompted by the looming threat of a new Russian offensive against Ukraine, the United States and Ukraine’s other partner countries have begun to supply Kyiv with weapons.
The United States sees indications that Russia is preparing for a major offensive against Ukraine by mid-February, according to U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.
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