U.S. takes aim at Russian oligarchs in fresh sanctions

WASHINGTON, March 3 (Reuters) – The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions against Russian oligarchs as it targeted Russia’s super-rich and others close to President Vladimir Putin, further ratcheting up financial pressure over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The United States imposed full blocking sanctions on eight oligarchs and officials, including Russian tycoon Alisher Usmanov, taking aim at those who have amassed fortunes and political influence through their connections to Putin.

“We want him (Putin) to feel the squeeze, we want the people around him to feel the squeeze,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Thursday.

The move is the latest in a series of sanctions announced by Washington so far, including against Putin and the central bank, after Russia’s forces invaded Ukraine in the biggest assault on a European state since World War Two. Moscow calls the assault a “special operation.”

Washington on Thursday imposed sanctions on Usmanov, founder of Russian mining company Metalloinvest, whom the White House described as a “one of Russia’s wealthiest individuals and a close ally of Putin.”

The move blocks his property from use in the United States and by U.S. persons, including his luxury yacht that the White House said was seized by Germany, and his private jet.

The U.S. Treasury Department took the rare step of including in what are normally textual news releases a pair of photos of Usmanov’s super-yacht and private jet.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, whom the White House accused of being “a top purveyor of Putin’s propaganda,” was also targeted in the move.

Nikolay Tokarev, the chief executive of energy giant Transneft, was designated along with his wife, daughter and his two luxury real estate companies.

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