Biden announces sanctions on Russian lawmakers, defense companies

The Biden administration on Thursday announced sanctions on more than 300 Russian lawmakers and dozens of state-owned companies that are connected to the war effort in the invasion of Ukraine.

The announcement came as President Biden met with NATO allies and Group of Seven (G-7) leaders in Brussels to discuss how to respond to the invasion as it stretches into its second month.

"I’m announcing additional sanctions on over 400 Russian elites, lawmakers, and defense companies in response to Putin’s war of choice in Ukraine. They personally gain from the Kremlin’s policies, and they should share in the pain," Biden tweeted.

The sanctions target 328 members of the Duma, Russia's legislative body, as well as the Duma itself as an entity. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had raised sanctioning Duma members during his address to Congress last week.

The U.S. is also sanctioning 17 board members of Sovcombank, one of the largest Russian financial institutions, as well as 48 Russian defense enterprises that have been producing equipment for the war effort, including helicopters and tactical missiles.

The administration also announced sanctions on Herman Gref, who is the head of Sberbank, Russia's largest financial institution, and Gennady Timchenko, a wealthy businessman and friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In addition to the new sanctions rolled out by the Biden administration, the U.S. and its European allies rolled out an initiative intended to better enforce existing sanctions on Russia.

The White House said the G-7 and European Union will also work to prevent Russia from using its international reserves, including gold, to prop up its economy in the face of sanctions that have crippled Russian financial markets and diminished the value of the ruble.

"As long as President Putin continues this war, the United States and allies and partners are committed to ensuring the Russian government feels the compounding effects of our current and future economic actions," the White House said in a statement.

Thursday's announcement builds on weeks of escalatory actions the U.S. has taken in coordination with allies to respond to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. and European leaders have sanctioned dozens of Russian oligarchs who benefit from Kremlin policies, major Russian financial institutions, Putin and members of his inner circle and Russian exports.

Still, Russian attacks on Ukraine have grown more intense, destroying swaths of major cities and killing hundreds of civilians. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday the U.S. had determined Russian forces had committed war crimes.

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