The U.S. is imposing sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin over his ongoing invasion of Ukraine, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday.
The move aligns Washington with American allies: Earlier in the day, the United Kingdom and the European Union said they would freeze any of Putin’s assets within their economies. Western powers have also targeted other powerful Russians, like Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov; unveiled sanctions against many of Russia’s most powerful banks; ended Russia’s ability to raise funding in their markets by selling its sovereign debt; and said they would stop selling vital high-tech imports to Moscow.
Additionally, the U.S. and other members of the NATO military alliance agreed to position more troops in the organization’s eastern member countries that fear similar Russian aggression ― the latest sign that Putin’s effort to force the alliance out of Russia’s neighborhood could backfire.
Because Putin is thought to keep much of his largely ill-gotten wealth outside Western nations, the sanctions are unlikely to hurt him directly, serving instead as a symbolic rebuke to complement sanctions on others around him.
“Putin treats the entire Russian economy as his personal piggy bank. Sanctions will not impoverish Putin or change his life in any meaningful way,” former State Department official Eddie Fishman tweeted of the policy. “The best way to target Putin is to erode his popular support in Russia among both everyday Russians and the oligarchs. In other words: tough sanctions against the Russian economy and oligarchs are the best way to target Putin.”
Fishman predicted harsher measures to come unless Russia ends its invasion.
“This step that we are doing in alignment and in coordination with the Europeans just sends a clear message about the strength of the opposition” to Russia’s actions, Psaki said.
She added that the U.S. is still considering cutting Russia out of the global financial messaging system SWIFT.