The United States has joined the EU and the United Kingdom in freezing the assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister, as part of a new sanctions package intended to strengthen the response of the West to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
President Joe Biden announced the sanctions against Putin and his team on Friday. Besides the Russian president and Sergei Lavrov, the country’s foreign minister, Washington has also targeted General Valery Gerasimov, the country’s military chief, and Sergei Shoigu, the defense minister.
“It is extremely rare for the Treasury to appoint a head of state. President Putin joins a very small group that includes despots such as Kim Jong Un, Alexander Lukashenko and Bashar al-Assad,” the Treasury said, referring to the leaders of North Korea, Belarus and Syria.
The United States made the decision after Biden had a call with Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, the White House said.
Christian Lindner, Germany’s finance minister, also suggested on Friday that Berlin was open to the possibility of cutting Russia off from the Swift international payments system, a move the German government had previously suggested it would not support.
The sanctions against Putin and Lavrov follow similar moves the West has taken against Russian banks and oligarchs in recent days in hopes of persuading Putin to change course in Ukraine – or at least make him pay a economic price for the invasion.
Foreign ministers endorsed the EU sanctions package at a meeting on Friday, along with measures against Russian banks and industry.
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