US Issues 500 New Sanctions Against Russia Following Navalny’s Death

Andrew Thornebrooke
By Andrew Thornebrooke
February 23, 2024US News

The Biden administration is unveiling more than 500 new sanctions against Russia and the entities supporting its human rights abuses and war effort in Ukraine.

The tranche of sanctions is the largest unveiled since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago, and seeks to hold Moscow to account for the war and the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, President Joe Biden said in a prepared statement.

“Today, I am announcing more than 500 new sanctions against Russia for its ongoing war of conquest on Ukraine and for the death of Aleksey Navalny, who was a courageous anti-corruption activist and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s fiercest opposition leader,” President Biden said.

“We are also imposing new export restrictions on nearly 100 entities for providing backdoor support for Russia’s war machine.”

The Treasury and State Departments will impose the sanctions, with the Department of Commerce also adding more than 90 companies to the Entity List.

They target individuals and businesses operating in 11 countries, as well as three Russian government officials whom the White House has linked to the death of Mr. Navalny in an Arctic prison last week.

The Sanctions also target Russia’s financial and energy sectors, defense industrial base, procurement networks, and sanctions evaders on multiple continents.

A Treasury Department statement.said that the sanctions were designed “to impose additional costs for Russia’s repression, human rights abuses, and aggression against Ukraine.”

Commerce Secretary Janet Yellen added that Russian leader Vladimir Putin had sacrificed the wellbeing of the Russian people in his effort to demilitarize Ukraine.

“Putin has mortgaged the present and future of the Russian people for his own aims to subjugate Ukraine,” Ms. Yellen said.

“The Kremlin chooses to reorient its economy to build weapons to kill its neighbors at the expense of the economic future of its own people.”

Russian Economy Holds Against Mounting Sanctions

The sanctions follow closely behind a similar effort led by European officials earlier this week, in which EU member states banned nearly 200 entities and individuals accused of helping Moscow to illegally procure weapons and of kidnapping children in Ukraine.

Russia’s foreign ministry responded by expanding a list of European Union officials and politicians banned from entering Russia.

The sanctions also follow a series of arrests and indictments in the United States, wherein the Justice Department has accused Russian oligarchs, including the head of Russia’s second-largest bank, of sanctions busting and money laundering.

The new sanctions accordingly target several high-profile entities, including the National Payment Card System Joint Stock Company, which is owned by the Central Bank of Russia and plays a key role in facilitating financial transactions there.

Likewise, 26 entities and individuals in 11 other countries are now sanctioned, including several companies from communist China and an Iranian front company operating in the United Arab Emirates.

The United States has sanctioned over 4,000 entities and individuals since Mr. Putin ordered his full-scale invasion of Ukraine. However, the results of those sanctions have been mixed.

Russia’s economy shrank by more than two percent in 2022 as a result of international sanctions, but grew again in 2023 by about three percent, largely due to increased energy deals with China and sanctions evasion efforts.

To that end, Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said on Thursday that the “massive new sanctions packages [are] designed, among other things, to strangle Russia’s effort at sanctions evasion.”

“It is very heavily focused on evasion, on nodes and networks and countries that help evade, willingly or otherwise, and on the banks that support and allow that kind of evasion,” Ms. Nuland said during a talk at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.

International Outcry Over Death of Navalny

The EU and U.S. efforts to finally throttle Russia’s ability to continue its war effort come as the international community is once again galvanized against Moscow following the death of Mr. Navalny last week.

Russia’s prison service claims that Mr. Navalny, a Russian opposition activist and Mr. Putin’s most prominent critic for nearly two decades, died suddenly after a walk at the “Polar Wolf” penal colony where he was held.

No evidence has been presented to support the claim, however. Many, including President Biden, have accused the Kremlin of foul play.

Mr. Navalny’s anti-corruption work frequently put him at odds with the Putin administration over the years.

In the early 2000s, Mr. Navalny was arrested several times for leading protests against Mr. Putin’s centralization of state power into the executive office.

Tensions between the two escalated and Mr. Navalny was at various points charged with embezzlement, fraud, and defamation, which allowed Mr. Putin to ban him from running in the 2018 presidential elections.

In 2020, Mr. Navalny was poisoned with Novichok, a nerve agent commonly used by Russian security forces, and flown to Germany for emergency treatment.

The EU and UK imposed sanctions on Russian security services following the poisoning, which officials in Europe said “was only possible with the consent of the [Russian] Presidential Executive Office.”

Russian prosecutors refused to open a criminal investigation into the poisoning, saying that there was no evidence a crime was committed.

Instead, when Mr. Navalny returned to Russia following his hospital stay in Germany, he was arrested for violating his parole by going to Germany.

Shortly after that final arrest, Mr. Navalny’s anti-corruption organizations were declared extremist operations and he was sentenced to an additional 19 years in prison for organizing and funding them.

President Biden blamed Mr. Navalny’s death on the Kremlin last week, saying that Mr. Putin was directly responsible.

“Make no mistake, Putin is responsible for Alexei Navalny’s death,” President Biden told reporters.

“There is no doubt that the death of Navalny was a consequence of something that Putin and his thugs did.”

From The Epoch Times

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