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US to sanction Putin, Lavrov over Russian Ukraine invasion

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced on Friday that the Biden administration is to hit Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with personal economic sanctions.

Update:
(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on December 6, 2021 shows US President Joe Biden during a signing ceremony at the White House in Washington, DC on November 18, 2021 and Russian President Vladimir Putin in a congress of the United Russia party
MANDEL NGAN MIKHAIL METZELAFP

The United States is to impose personal economic sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, after Russia launched an all-out invasion on Ukraine on Thursday.

US joins EU, UK in hitting Putin, Lavrov with asset freeze

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced the move in a press briefing on Friday. It follows confirmation earlier in the day that the European Union is to hit Putin and Lavrov with a freeze on any assets they hold in the bloc.

“Following a telephone conversation President Biden held with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and in alignment with the decision by our European allies, the United States will join them in sanctioning President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov, and members of the Russian national security team,” Psaki said.

“The step that we are doing in alignment with and in coordination with the Europeans sends a clear message about the strength of the opposition to the actions by President Putin and the direction in his leadership of the Russian military.”

Sanctions likely to include US travel ban, Psaki says

Psaki said the Biden administration would reveal more specific details on the sanctions later on Friday. She told CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins that the package of penalties is expected to include a ban on Putin travelling to the US.

"There are very limited examples of this being done, as you all know, but that is a standard part," Psaki said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had confirmed earlier on Friday that the United Kingdom is to join the EU in imposing an asset freeze on Putin and Lavrov.

Borrell: Putin now in same company as Assad and Lukashenko

It is not clear how much impact a foreign-assets freeze will have on Putin or Lavrov.

Asked whether the pair have any assets in the EU or the UK, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said, per The Guardian: “I am not in the secrets of Mr Lavrov and Mr Putin’s wealth and it is not my duty. There are people who will take care of that.”

However, Borrell also said, per Reuters: “Let me flag that the only leaders in the world that are sanctioned by the European Union are [Bashar al] Assad from Syria, [Aleksandr] Lukashenko from Belarus and now Putin from Russia.”

Direct sanctions follow second wave of US penalties for Russia

On Thursday, President Biden announced that the US had adopted a second package of economic sanctions against Russia, following an initial tranche of measures earlier this week. The penalties target Russia’s largest financial institutions, several major state-owned enterprises, members of the Russian elite, and the country’s ability to import US technology.

"Putin is the aggressor," Biden said. "Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences."

Live coverage of the war in Ukraine

You can follow the latest developments in Ukraine with our live-text coverage of Russia's invasion of the country.

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