US financial sanctions target one of Russia's richest men

Vladimir Potanin
AFP file photo

The US announced financial sanctions targeting one of Russia's wealthiest men, Vladimir Potanin, the Treasury Department and State Department said Thursday, adding to efforts that curb Moscow's ability to fund its war in Ukraine.

The actions follow earlier moves by Washington to isolate Russia from the global financial system, and are expected to complement those of the US's partners, according to authorities.

"The Department of State is imposing sanctions on Vladimir Potanin, one of Russia's wealthiest oligarchs and a close associate of President (Vladimir) Putin, as well as three members of his immediate family and his company, Interros," said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The department is also identifying Potanin's yacht, Nirvana, as blocked property, he said.

Meanwhile, the designation of Rosbank and other entities related to Russia's financial sector "are part of the US government's efforts to further limit (Russia's) ability to fund its unconscionable war of choice against Ukraine," the Treasury Department added in a statement.

It is sanctioning 18 entities in its latest move, with Rosbank in particular being a Russia-based commercial bank that Potanin acquired earlier this year, and seen as a key credit institution.

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control is also targeting 17 subsidiaries of Russia's second-largest bank, VTB Bank, the department said.

"By sanctioning additional major Russian banks, we continue to deepen Russia's isolation from global markets," said Treasury's Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson.

'Clear message'

The Treasury Department's actions run alongside the State Department's moves to designate Potanin, his network and more than 40 more people linked to the government in Moscow. 

Blinken said Thursday that officials also took aim at "29 Russian heads of regions and governors, two of their family members, and an entity owned by one of the family members." 

"These governors oversee and enforce the conscription of citizens in response to Russia's recent mobilization order," he added.

He said the US's actions "are a clear message that the United States will not hesitate to continue to use the tools at our disposal to promote an end to, and accountability for," Putin's war.↳

Potanin formerly served as a Deputy Prime Minister for the Russian Federation, and has direct ties to Putin, according to the State Department.

The actions come after similar moves were taken against Potanin and his network by Britain and Canada, the State Department said.