US to impose sanctions on Putin following Ukraine invasion

The Russian leader will become the highest-profile target in the effort to impose costs on the Russian economy and Putin’s inner circle in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Additional Russian officials are likely to be included, one source familiar with the matter said.

The European Union, United Kingdom and Canada also announced Friday that they would introduce sanctions targeting Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the US move to sanction Putin and Lavrov, which was first reported by CNN, was made in the last 24 hours in coordination with European allies.

“It’s been on the table for some time, but through coordination and discussion with our European partners over the last day or so,” Psaki said when asked for details on the timing of the decision.

How significant are the US sanctions on Russia?

The decision to target Putin directly across Western allies marks the most personal escalation of a sweeping effort to respond to Russia’s actions through economic penalties. While it’s unclear the extent of the direct effect — officials have long said Putin’s finances are opaque and difficult to track — the symbolism of targeting the Russian leader is clear.

PSAKI also said she “believes” a travel ban of some kind will be included in the US sanctions against the Russian President, but she did not have specific details yet.

“There are very limited examples of this being done, as you all know, but that is a standard part,” she said.

President Joe Biden had said sanctioning Putin had been an option under consideration, telling CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on Thursday it was “on the table.”

The Biden administration on Thursday announced sweeping sanctions targeting Russia, enacting penalties across industries, including asset freezes for the largest banks, debt and equity restrictions on critical mining, transportation and logistics firms and a large-scale effort to shut down access to critical technology for key Russian military and industrial sectors.

As part of its first two rounds of sanctions, the US targeted key members of Putin’s inner circle, both in government and in business. But in what would mark a new strategy, they also expanded sanctions to the adult children of several of the officials.

It was a calculated effort to cut off what officials say has been a pathway utilized by Russian officials to shield their wealth by transferring it to family members.

The EU and UK have also targeted a series of Russian officials.

Earlier this week, the US also allowed sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany to go forward, after Germany said it would not certify the pipeline following the Russian invasion.

Those sanctions were issued in coordination with European countries to punish Moscow for its attack on Ukraine.

Battle for Ukrainian capital underway as Russian troops seek to encircle Kyiv

But the White House and European Union faced calls from Ukrainian leaders — as well as lawmakers in Congress — to take additional steps, including shutting Russia out from the SWIFT financial messaging system used for international transactions, as well as targeting Putin directly.

European counties, which rely on SWIFT to buy Russian gas and energy, were not yet ready to take that step, however, which Biden alluded to at his Thursday news conference.

“We’ve never taken that off the table, of course, and I’m certainly not taking it off the table today,” Psaki said of SWIFT. “So certainly there’ll be ongoing discussions about that.”

The plans from the US, UK and European Union to collectively sanction Putin personally came after a call with NATO leaders on Friday. NATO leaders also announced the alliance was activating the NATO Response Force for the first time as a defensive measure in response to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The EU announced Friday it was adding Putin and Lavrov in its sanctions list. And UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday he will introduce new sanctions against Putin and Lavrov “imminently” on top of sanctions the British government announced on Thursday.

A readout of Johnson’s call with NATO leaders published on the UK government’s website said that Johnson also urged NATO countries “to take immediate action against SWIFT to inflict maximum pain on President Putin and his regime.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also on Friday announced a “third set of severe, coordinated sanctions.”

“First, we will be imposing sanctions on President Putin and his fellow architects of this barbaric war, his chief of staff and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov,” he said.

“Additionally, I am confirming Canada’s support to remove Russia from the SWIFT payment system, a critical part of the global banking system,” Trudeau added.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Maegan Vazquez, Sam Fossum and Raja Razek contributed reporting.

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