Here’s what Biden decided to do.
On Friday (February 25), White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that the Biden administration would be sanctioning Russian President Vladimir Putin in addition to other Moscow officials as part of their response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The announcement comes after the European Union announced earlier on Friday that it would be imposing direct sanctions on Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
On Thursday, Biden revealed he would not rule out imposing direct sanctions on Putin, but would not divulge if he would be pursuing the action. His revelation followed a conversation he had with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyer.
When questioned about what changed between Thursday and Friday, to make the President impose direct sanctions, Psaki stated that Biden’s “strong view and strong principle from the beginning of this conflict” had always been to “take action in steps in alignment with our European partners.”
Friday’s direct sanctions target Putin, Lavrov, and 11 members in the Russian security council who have also been advisers and aides to Putin. Viktor Zolotov, Vladimir Ustinov, Valentina Matviyenko, Vyacheslav Volodin, Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Igor Krasnov, Igor Shchegolev, Nikolai Patrushev, Sergei Naryshkin, Alexander Bortnikov have all been named as targets of direct sanctions according to Treasury.
The direct sanctions mean those on this list will have their assets in U.S. territories or banks frozen. Considering those on this list are unlikely to have significant assets in the U.S. the action is mostly symbolic, displaying a united front with European allies, and the capacity to go directly after Putin.
In a statement, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen revealed the U.S. commitment to be “united with our international allies and partners to ensure Russia pays a severe economic and diplomatic price for its further invasion of Ukraine,” she added that, “If necessary, we are prepared to impose further costs on Russia for its appalling behavior on the world stage.”