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The United States has announced new sanctions against Russian oligarchs and others close to President Vladimir Putin, including his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov.

The March 3 announcement came as Russian forces continued their invasion of Ukraine, killing and injuring thousands and forcing an estimated 1 million people to flee.

In addition to Peskov, described in a White House sanctions statement as “a major purveyor of Putin’s propaganda”, US sanctions apply to Alisher Usmanov, identified by the White House as one of the individuals wealthiest in Russia and a close ally of Putin.

The US State Department also announced that it was imposing visa bans on 19 Russian oligarchs and dozens of their family members and close associates.

“These individuals have enriched themselves at the expense of the Russian people,” the White House statement said, detailing the new measures, which match previous actions against Russia’s wealthiest figures announced by the European Union.

The British government has also imposed sanctions on Usmanov and former Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, who was among those sanctioned on March 3 by the United States. The UK Foreign Office said the pair had “significant interests in the UK and close ties to the Kremlin”. The UK sanctions take effect immediately, the Foreign Office said.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the sanctions send a “clear message that we will hit the oligarchs and individuals closely associated with Putin’s regime”.

EU stocks include several Russian billionaires close to the Kremlin and Peskov. The United States, Britain and Europe are using sanctions to inflict financial hardship on Russian elites in order to get at Putin.

US President Joe Biden said in his State of the Union address on March 1 that the United States would work to seize the yachts, luxury apartments and private jets of wealthy Russians linked to Putin.

The White House statement on March 3, said the action targeted “a long list of Putin’s cronies and family members,” including Uzbekistan-born Usmanov.

His property, including his super yacht, will be banned from use in the United States, the statement said, confirming an earlier report that German authorities had seized the 156-meter super yacht estimated at $600 million.

Usmanov’s private jet, one of Russia’s largest private planes, is also targeted by the sanctions.

Earlier on March 3, the French government said it had seized a super yacht linked to powerful Russian tycoon Igor Sechin, one of Putin’s closest associates. The vessel, owned by a company linked to Sechin, the CEO of Russian energy giant Rosneft, was seized within the framework of the measures taken by the European Union against Russia.

The United States will continue to work with allies and partners “to hold accountable the Russian oligarchs and corrupt leaders who profit from this violent regime,” the White House said.

“These individuals and their family members will be cut off from the US financial system; their assets in the United States will be frozen and their property will be prohibited from use,” the White House said.

Others targeted by the new sanctions include oligarchs Nikolai Tokarev, Arkady Rotenberg, Sergei Chemezov and Yevgeniy Prigozhin and members of their families.

With reports from AP, AFP and Russian and Ukrainian services of RFE/RL

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