1 hr 19 min agoBiden administration imposes new sanctions on Russia banking institutions and Putin’s daughtersFrom CNN’s Betsy Klein and Kevin Liptak
The US is taking additional actions to increase economic pressure on Russia and President Vladimir Putin following horrific images from the Ukrainian city of Bucha, announcing new sanctions Wednesday on Russian financial institutions, as well as some people, including Putin’s adult daughters and the wife and daughter of his foreign minister.
“Today we’re dramatically escalating the financial shock by imposing full blocking sanctions on Russia’s largest financial institution, Sberbank, and its largest private bank, Alfa Bank,” a senior administration official briefing reporters said. Sberbank holds nearly one-third of Russia’s total banking sector assets, the official noted, adding that the US has now fully blocked “more than two-thirds of the Russian banking sector.”
Second, the senior official announced, “In alignment with the G7 and the EU, we’re announcing a ban on new investment in Russia.” That will be implemented with an executive order signed by US President Joe Biden.
The administration is also putting full blocking sanctions on a new set of Russian elites and their family members, including Putin’s adult daughters Mariya Putina and Katerina Tikhonova, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s wife and daughter and members of Russia’s Security Council, including former President and Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. The US has already sanctioned more than 140 oligarchs and their family members and over 400 Russian government officials, the senior official said.
The US will also apply full blocking sanctions on critical major Russian state-owned enterprises, which will be announced by the Department of Treasury on Thursday. The official also noted Tuesday’s announcement that the Department of Treasury has blocked Russia from making debt payments with dollars stockpiled at US banks.
The senior official noted the crippling effect of US measures on the Russian economy since its invasion of Ukraine.
“Russia’s GDP is projected to shrink by double digits this year… It’s not in the process of being isolated as a pariah state. The economic shock this year alone is projected by the IMF (International Monetary Fund) to wipe out the past 15 years of economic gains,” the official said.
Pressed about the efficacy of sanctions in ending Putin’s war in Ukraine, the senior official sought to underscore the effect they are having 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 promising stability and so he’s not giving them stability,” the official said.
“The question really is not so much: What can we do and when will that have an effect? I think it’s: What’s the endgame here for Putin? What’s he playing for?” the official added. “This is very clearly becoming a failure for him and at some point he will have to recognize that reality.”
1 hr 14 min agoUNGA plans to hold a vote on whether to suspend Russia from Human Rights CouncilFrom CNN’s Liam Reilly
A vote on whether or not to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council will happen either Thursday or Friday, the spokesperson for the president of the United Nations General Assembly said.
The UN General Assembly will resume its Emergency Special Session Thursday morning. The meeting will be open and speeches will be available on camera through UNTV, Paulina Kubiak Greer said.
The United States ambassador to the United Nations made a case for seeking the suspension of Russia from the Human Rights Council in front of the UN Security Council Tuesday, something she and other UN member states are calling for.
“Russia should not have a position of authority in a body whose purpose — whose very purpose — is to promote respect for human rights,” Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said addressing the council Tuesday. “Russia’s participation on the Human Rights Council hurts the council’s credibility. It undermines the entire UN. And it is just plain wrong.”The Human Rights Council sits in Geneva. The UN General Assembly would need to vote in favor by two-thirds to remove Russia from the HRC.
1 hr 28 min agoDOJ says it disrupted a botnet run by Russian military intelligence agencyFrom CNN’s Tierney Sneed
Attorney General Merrick Garland, center, accompanied by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, left, and FBI Director Christopher Wray, right, speaks at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington D.C, on April 6. (Andrew Harnik/AP)US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Wednesday the Justice Department had successfully disrupted of a botnet, or a network of infected devices, that was being controlled by the Russian military intelligence agency known as the GRU.
“The Russian government has recently used similar infrastructure to attack Ukrainian targets,” Garland said. ”Fortunately, we were able to disrupt this botnet before it could be used. Thanks to our close work with international partners, we were able to detect the infection of thousands of network hardware devices.” Garland touted the disruption among several actions the Justice Department has taken against the Russian regime that he highlighted at news conference with Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, FBI Director Chris Wray and other DOJ officials.
Garland also announced that that the Department was charging Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev with sanctions violations.
“As the indictment charges, the Treasury Department previously identified Malofeyev as one of the main sources of financing for Russians promoting separatism in Crimea, and for providing material support for the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic,” Garland said. “After being sanctioned by the United States, Malofeyev attempted to evade the sanctions by using co-conspirators to surreptitiously acquire and run media outlets across Europe.”
The new actions come in addition to a yacht — owned by another Kremlin tied oligarch facing sanctions, Viktor Vekselberg — that was seized earlier this week.
Additionally, Garland said Wednesday, the department, in coordination with its German law enforcement partners, seized the “Russia-affiliated Hydra darknet market — the world’s largest illegal marketplace on the dark web.” Charges had been brought, according to Garland, against a Russian national who allegedly administered the market’s technical infrastructure.
1 hr 41 min agoUkraine war could last for years as Putin still wants the “whole of Ukraine,” NATO chief saysFrom Amy Cassidy in London
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks as he arrives for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgiu
Putin’s two adult daughters are targeted in this round of sanctions because the US believes he may be hiding some of his assets with them, an official says
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