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EU looking to add two of Putin's daughters to sanctions blacklist

The US has announced it is to sanction Maria Vorontsova and Katerina Tikhonova.

THE EU IS looking to add two of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s daughters to its sanctions blacklist over Moscow’s war on Ukraine, according to a list seen by AFP and confirmed by several diplomats.

The move, under discussion by EU diplomats, is part of a wave of fresh measures being planned after Ukrainian and Western leaders accused the Kremlin’s forces of civilian massacres near Kyiv.

The United States announced today it was sanctioning the two daughters, Maria Vorontsova and Katerina (or Ekaterina) Tikhonova, both in their mid-30s.

Their mother is the Russian leader’s ex-wife Lyudmila, whose divorce from Putin was announced in 2013.

The Kremlin has kept details of Putin’s daughters’ lives a closely guarded secret.

Diplomats told AFP that EU member states hoped to sign off on the latest EU package of sanctions later this week.

According to the European Commission list of proposed individuals and entities to sanction, Vorontsova was included because she was co-owner of Nomenko, a company “involved in Russia’s largest private investment project in healthcare”. She was thus deemed to benefit from the Russian government and was involved in a sector providing it revenue.

She is reputedly married to a Dutch businessman, media have reported.

The commission list had her sister Tikhonova included because “she currently heads the Innopraktika development initiative, funded by key Russian companies whose directors are members of the inner circle of oligarchs close to President Putin”. She was also therefore seen to benefit from the Kremlin and be involved in providing it revenue.

Draft list

The draft commission list contained a total of 217 individuals and 18 entities.

Other notable entries were: Herman Gref, the head of Russia’s biggest listed bank, Sberbank; oligarch Oleg Deripaska who owns arms factories; defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov; more members of the ultra-wealthy Rotenberg family close to Putin; and members of the administrations running separatist Russian-backed enclaves in eastern Ukraine.

The European Union has already imposed an asset freeze on Putin over the invasion of Ukraine as it tries to ratchet up pressure on the Russian president and his inner circle over the invasion of Ukraine.

The EU’s latest package of sanctions also envisions a ban on Russian coal exports and blocking Russian ships from entering European ports.

UK sanctions

The UK has also stepped up its sanctions on Putin’s regime. “We will not let Russia’s appalling crimes go unnoticed or unpunished,” Boris Johnson said this afternoon. “Ukraine must prevail.”

The government announced a full asset freeze on largest Russian bank and end to all new UK outward investment into Russia; the UK will end all imports of Russian coal and oil by end of 2022 and take action against oligarchs and key strategic industries; Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will urge G7 colleagues to maintain the momentum on further waves of sanctions at a meeting tomorrow.

There will be asset freezes against Sberbank and Credit Bank of Moscow – Sberbank is Russia’s largest bank and this freeze is being taken in co-ordination with the US, said the UK.

By the end of 2022, the UK will end all dependency on Russian coal and oil, and end imports of gas as soon as possible thereafter. From next week, the export of key oil refining equipment and catalysts will also be banned.

Action will also be taken against key Russian strategic industries and state owned enterprises, including a ban on imports of iron and steel products. 

The UK will also target further eight oligarchs active in these industries, including:

  • Viatcheslav (Moshe) Kantor, the largest shareholder of fertilizer company Acron.
  • Andrey Guryev – known close associate of Vladimir Putin and founder of PhosAgro – a company that produces fertilizers.
  • Sergey Kogogin, director of Kamaz – manufacturer of trucks and buses, including for the Russian military.
  • Sergey Sergeyevich Ivanov, President of the world’s largest diamond producer Alrosa, which the UK also sanctioned.
  • Leonid Mikhelson, the founder and CEO of leading Russian natural gas producer Novatek, with a net worth of £18bn.
  • Andrey Akimov, the CEO of Russia’s third largest bank Gazprombank.
  • Aleksander Dyukov, the CEO of Russia’s third largest and majority state-owned oil producer GazpromNeft.
  • Boris Borisovich Rotenberg, son of the co-owner of Russia’s largest gas pipeline producer SGM. The Rotenberg family are known for their close connections to Putin and a number of them have already been sanctioned.

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Meanwhile, Putin accused Ukrainian authorities of being behind “crude and cynical” provocations in the town of Bucha as he spoke to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

“Putin informed (Orban) about the situation regarding talks between Russian and Ukrainian representatives and also gave (his) principled assessment of the Kyiv regime’s crude and cynical provocation in the city of Bucha,” the Kremlin said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russian troops of killing dozens of civilians in Bucha, after images emerged at the weekend of bodies strewn across the streets following the Russian army’s withdrawal.

The Russian defence ministry claimed that Ukrainian authorities were preparing “similar provocations” in the towns of Konotop and Trostyanets in northeastern Ukraine and the towns of Borodyanka and Katyuzhanka near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

Separately, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Western media also carried the blame for what happened in Bucha.

Satellite photos taken while Bucha was still under Moscow’s control show what appear to be bodies lying in streets where the dead were later found by Ukrainian forces and seen by journalists.

Multiple Bucha residents told AFP they had seen Russian soldiers killing civilians.

Western nations have given short shrift to Russia’s denials. 

“What we’ve seen in Bucha is not the random act of a rogue unit. It’s a deliberate campaign to kill, to torture, to rape, to commit atrocities,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, who is set to visit Kyiv this week, has offered the bloc’s assistance in documenting proof of war crimes.

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