As US President Joe Biden meets with NATO and European allies in Brussels on Thursday, the US Treasury Department officially announced a slew of new sanctions against hundreds of members of the Russian State Duma, dozens of Russian defense companies, and the CEO of Sberbank, which is Russia's largest financial institution.
US officials previewed the upcoming announcement to reporters earlier this week.
Today's announcement will sanction 328 members of the 450-seat Russian State Duma, the lower level of the two-tiered Russian Parliament, cut off 48 Russian defense and material companies from Western technology and financing, as well as sanction Herman Gref — the head of Sberbank — who has worked with Russian President Vladimir Putin since the 1990s when both men were employed in the mayor's office of St. Petersburg.
Long-time Putin associate Gennady Timchenko — plus his companies, family members and yacht — have also been sanctioned, as well as 17 board members of Russian financial institution Sovcombank, according to the White House.
"They personally gain from the Kremlin’s policies, and they should share in the pain," Biden wrote on Twitter shortly after the US Treasury Department officially announced the new measures.
The Treasury Department sanctioned 12 members of the Duma earlier this month for their calls to recognize the Russian-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, which precipitated Russia's invasion. Today's measures will also sanction the State Duma as an institution, according to the department.
“The Russian State Duma continues to support Putin’s invasion, stifle the free flow of information, and infringe on the basic rights of the citizens of Russia. We call on those closest to Putin to cease and condemn this cold-blooded war,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a written statement.
Does this name sound familiar? One of the Duma members sanctioned today includes Maria Butina, who studied at American University in the US and pleaded guilty in 2018 to conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government after she tried to infiltrate conservative political groups, including the National Rifle Association. Butina was the first Russian citizen convicted of crimes relating to the 2016 election, although her efforts seemed to be separate from the sweeping election-meddling outlined in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
After her release in 2019, Butina returned to Russia and got involved in politics, and she is now serving as a member of the Duma.