US sanctions Putin, Lavrov over Russian military operation in Ukraine

The administration of US President Joe Biden will sanction Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov over Moscow’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine, the White House has confirmed.

“In alignment with the decision by our European allies, the US will join them in sanctioning President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov and members of the Russian national security team,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told a regular news briefing on Friday, adding more specifics will be announced later in the day.

The US move followed that of the European Union (EU) and Britain, which announced sanctions targeting the top Russian leadership earlier on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.

Biden on Thursday announced additional US sanctions against Russia targeting the country’s major financial institutions and an additional number of Russian individuals and their family members with ties to the Kremlin, on top of the so-called “first tranche” of sanctions imposed on Russian state-owned banks, the Russian sovereign debt market as well as individual elites.

Asked about the possibility of his Russian counterpart, Biden didn’t commit to that on Thursday, only saying it remained an option on the table.

Psaki on Friday said the reason Biden waited until after the EU and Britain announced their sanctions against the Russian President to decide on his own move is that his “strong principle … has been to take actions and steps in alignment with our European partners.”

Also on Friday, a senior administration official said future US sanctions will not target Russian oil and gas industry.

“The sanctions will not target the oil flows as we go forward,” Amos Hochstein, the State Department’s senior Energy Security Adviser, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television.

Hochstein added that doing so won’t necessarily reduce Russia’s oil and gas revenue, and may instead lead to a scenario where “the US and our allies would suffer the consequences.”

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