“We will continue to raise the economic price and increase the pain for Putin and further increase Russia’s economic isolation,” Biden said, condemning Russia’s deliberate attack on civilians and announcing the West’s only response, even as he acknowledged the battle was still ongoing. . .
Earlier, Biden said he considered Putin a war criminal, and this week called for a trial to bring Moscow to justice. However, the process of prosecuting war crimes is complex and lengthy, and questions remain about how and when such responsibility can be brought.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Wednesday that the Justice Department is assisting in gathering evidence for potential prosecution for war crimes related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He said he had spoken to French and other European officials about the evidence gathering now underway.
And Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Sunday that the United States is “working to document” war crimes in order to provide information to relevant agencies.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan also said this week that the U.S. would seek information from intelligence agencies, Ukrainian witnesses, international organizations and interviews in the world media to build the case.
Biden praised Ukraine on Wednesday for supporting the fight against Russia, which did not allow it to seize the country’s capital.
“Thanks to the courage, steadfastness and fighting spirit of the Ukrainian people, Russia has already failed in its original goals of war. Russia wanted to take the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and overthrow its democracy and elected government. Today Kyiv still stands and this government presides,” Biden said.
But he warned that the violence could not end soon.
“The battle is far from over,” he said. “This war could go on for a long time.”
The sanctions of the “full blockade” against Russia’s largest financial institution “Sberbank” and its largest private bank “Alfa-Bank” are designed to further stop Russia’s economy. They will ban transactions with any U.S. financial institutions and freeze assets held by U.S. banks.
“They will not be able to touch their money. They will not be able to do any business here, ”Biden said.
Sberbank owns nearly one-third of all assets in Russia’s banking sector, and the White House says more than two-thirds of Russia’s banking sector is now blocked due to sanctions on Wednesday.
“The sad reality is that Putin’s war will make it harder for Russians to go abroad. This means that their debit cards may not work. They may only have the opportunity to buy counterfeit phones and counterfeit clothes, store shelves may be empty, ”a senior official told reporters.
“The reality is that the country is sinking into economic and financial and technological isolation, and at this rate it will return to Soviet standards of the 1980s,” the official continued.
According to a senior administration official, the U.S. hopes Putin’s two adult daughters will freeze any assets the Russian president may be hiding with them. Without specifying which of Putin’s assets could be hidden with Maria Putin and Ekaterina Tikhonova, the official said that such a practice is common among the Russian elite.
Members of the Russian Security Council, including former Russian President and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, are also subject to individual sanctions. The United States has already imposed sanctions on more than 140 oligarchs and members of their families and more than 400 Russian government officials, a senior official said.
“Look, these oligarchs and their families are not allowed to keep their wealth in Europe and the United States and keep these yachts for hundreds of millions of dollars, their luxury holiday homes, while children in Ukraine are killed, evicted from their homes every day,” – said Biden in his speech.
The new sanctions will separate these individuals from the U.S. banking system and freeze any assets located in the United States.
The White House has also announced a ban on new investments in Russia to be made under the G7 and the EU. The ban will be implemented by a decree signed by President Joe Biden.
The United States will also impose sanctions on full blocking of major Russian state-owned enterprises, the Finance Ministry will announce on Thursday. The official also noted on Tuesday’s announcement that the Treasury Department had blocked Russia from paying off debt with dollars held in US banks.
Although the United States and its allies have imposed the toughest sanctions regime against a country the size of Russia in history, officials acknowledge that it has done little to change Putin’s calculation. The threat of sanctions did not deter the invasion itself, and the accumulation of economic sanctions did not bring Russia closer to either withdrawing or settling in negotiations.
Pressing on the effectiveness of sanctions in ending Putin’s war in Ukraine, a senior official sought to emphasize the impact they have on life in Russia, and said Putin would eventually have to reckon with his people.
“Even an autocrat like Putin has a social contract with the Russian people. He took away their freedom in exchange for the promise of stability, and therefore he does not give them stability,” the official said.
“The question isn’t really that much: what can we do and when will it work? I think it’s: what’s the final for Putin? What is he playing for?” Said the official. “It clearly becomes a failure for him, and at some point he will have to acknowledge that reality.”
This story has been supplemented by additional reports.