US foreign policy

US companies, individuals banned from dealing with Russia Central Bank, others

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The Biden administration issued sweeping orders Monday, banning American companies and individuals from doing business with Russia’s Central Bank, the Ministry of Finance and the Russian National Wealth Fund.

The sanctions announced were to make sure the Russian economy “goes backward if President Putin decides to continue to go forward with invasion in Ukraine,” a senior US official told reporters early Monday.

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“We have the tools to continue to do that,” the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.

Asked if all assets of Russia’s sanctioned entities were frozen as a result of the latest actions, the official said: “If a US financial institution has Russian Central Bank assets, they can’t do anything with them. They are stuck in that institution.”

But Russia’s assets are diversified, including in Euros, Yen, and Pound (Sterling). “And because of the work that we’ve done in coordinating [with allies], it means that those assets are also immobilized and unavailable for their use,” the official added.

A second official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the announcement was made early Monday “because we wanted to put these actions in place before our markets open.”

The official cited Russia trying to move assets before markets opened. “Russia is taking unprecedented actions to try and support their economy.”

“In addition, as directed by President Biden last week, OFAC sanctioned a key Russian sovereign wealth fund, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), with exposure to the United States financial system and its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Kirill Dmitriev – a known Putin ally,” the Treasury Department said.

As the situation continues to deteriorate in Ukraine and violence escalates, the US also suspended operations at its embassy in Minsk, Belarus and authored departure for non-emergency employees and family members at the embassy in Moscow.

“We took these steps due to security and safety issues stemming from the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

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