Biden slaps sanctions on 500 targets involved in Russia ‘war machine’

US President Joe Biden on Friday announced sanctions on more than 500 targets in Russia on the second anniversary of the Ukraine invasion, vowing sustained pressure to stop President Vladimir Putin’s “war machine.”

The sanctions, described by the Treasury Department as the largest single tranche since the start of the war, will seek to impose a cost for the death in prison a week ago of Putin’s most vocal critic, Alexei Navalny.

Biden said that the more than 500 sanctions, expected to be unveiled later in the day, will target “individuals connected to Navalny’s imprisonment as well as Russia’s financial sector, defense industrial base, procurement networks and sanctions evaders across multiple continents.”

“They will ensure Putin pays an even steeper price for his aggression abroad and repression at home,” Biden said in a statement.

“We are also imposing new export restrictions on nearly 100 entities for providing backdoor support for Russia’s war machine,” he said.

The United States and its allies have imposed a slew of measures against Russia since the start of the war, including blocking financial assets, restricting high-tech exports and setting an official cap on the sale price of Russia’s oil exports.

But US military support critical for Ukraine has dried up due to a political impasse in Congress, with Russia recently scoring a key battlefield gain.

And the Russian economy is still expected to grow this year, albeit at a lower scale, as the country adapts and relies on trade with non-Western partners, especially China.

A coalition involving the Group of Seven leading economies, the European Union and Australia earlier announced plans to tighten compliance with the $60 per barrel cap on of Russian crude.

Holding Putin responsible for death

Biden has declared that he considers Putin responsible for the death of Navalny, 47, who barely survived a 2020 poisoning he blamed on government agents.

On Thursday, Biden said he had met privately in California with Navalny’s widow and daughter.

He told reporters after meeting with Yulia and Dasha Navalnaya in San Francisco that Putin’s late opponent was “a man of incredible courage.”

A number of European governments have summoned Russian diplomats to protest the death of Navalny, and Britain imposed sanctions on six officials at the remote Siberian penal colony where the campaigner died.

The White House has said as well that Washington would soon impose new sanctions on Iran over its backing for Russia’s invasion.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told journalists that authorities are prepared to go even further if Iran sells ballistic missiles to Russia.

In announcing the new measures, Biden also made a new plea for Congress to fund new military aid to Ukraine.

House Speaker Mike Johnson has refused to bring the aid to a vote, with his ally, presidential hopeful Donald Trump, criticizing support for Ukraine.

Ukrainian forces recently withdrew from Avdiivka in the eastern Donetsk region as they ran short of ammunition, giving Russia its first major gain on the ground since May.

“History is watching. The failure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will not be forgotten,” Biden said.

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