US sanctions Russia’s Gazprombank executives


US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on economic growth, jobs, and deficit reduction in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, US, May 4, 2022. (REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)

WILMINGTON, Delaware — The United States on Sunday unveiled sanctions against three Russian television stations, banned Americans from providing accounting and consulting services to Russians, and sanctioned executives from Gazprombank to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

The new sanctions are the latest effort by the United States to increase pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin after his country’s assault on Ukraine and came as President Joe Biden met virtually with G7 leaders and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss the war.

The measures leveled against Gazprombank executives were the first involving the giant Russian gas exporter as the United States and its allies have avoided taking steps that might lead to disruptions of gas to Europe, Russia’s main customer.

“This is not a full block. We’re not freezing the assets of Gazprombank or prohibiting any transactions with Gazprombank,” a senior Biden administration official told reporters. “What we’re signaling is that Gazprombank is not a safe haven, and so we’re sanctioning some of their top business executives … to create a chilling effect.”

Biden, who has lauded unity among the Group of Seven large economies in standing up to Russian President Vladimir Putin, met by video conference with his fellow leaders from his home in Delaware, where he is spending the weekend.

The White House said the leaders would discuss the latest developments in the war, its global impact, and support for Ukraine and its future.

It said the full G7 had committed to “phasing out or banning the import of Russian oil” and would work together “to ensure stable global energy supplies while accelerating our efforts to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.”

The meeting comes ahead of Russia’s Victory Day celebrations on Monday. Putin calls the invasion a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it of anti-Russian nationalism fomented by the West. Ukraine and its allies say Russia launched an unprovoked war.

The United States and Europe have imposed crushing sanctions on Russia since its invasion, targeting banks, businesses, and individuals in an attempt to squeeze the Russian economy and limit resources being used to advance the war.

Eight executives from Sberbank, which holds one-third of Russia’s banking assets, were added to the latest US sanctions list. Moscow Industrial Bank and its 10 subsidiaries were also added.

“Taken together, today’s actions are a continuation of the systematic and methodical removal of Russia from the global financial and economic system. And the message is there will be no safe haven for the Russian economy if Putin’s invasion continues,” the official said.

The new export control restrictions were aimed at directly degrading Putin’s war effort, including controls on industrial engines, bulldozers, wood products, motors, and fans. The European Union is moving in tandem with additional controls on chemicals that feed directly into the Russian military effort, the official said.

Limited Liability Company Promtekhnologiya, a weapons maker, was sanctioned, along with seven shipping companies and a marine towing company. The White House also said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would suspend licenses for exports of special nuclear material to Russia.

The sanctioned television stations are directly or indirectly state-controlled, the White House said, and included Joint Stock Company Channel One Russia, Television Station Russia-1, and Joint Stock Company NTV Broadcasting Company.

Americans will be prohibited from providing accounting, trust, and corporate formation, and management consulting services to Russians, though providing legal services is still permissible.

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