Shipping companies suspend deliveries to Russia; Britain and Canada close ports to Russian ships

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the economic sanctions announced on April 6 were strong but still not enough to end Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking in his daily video address early April 7, Zelenskiy urged the democratic world to go further by rejecting Russian oil and completely locking Russian banks out of the international financial system.

“Unless there is a really painful set of sanctions against Russia and the real supply of weapons which we have repeatedly asked for, Russia will take this as a license,” Zelenskiy said in the address, posted on Facebook. “Like permission to advance. Like permission to step on it. Like permission to unleash a new bloody wave in the Donbass.”

He added that the failure of countries to quickly agree to an embargo on Russian oil was costing Ukrainians their lives.

Presidential aide Andriy Yermak said earlier that Ukraine’s allies must go further than the sanctions announced on April 6.

“Sanctions against Russia must be ruinous enough for us to end this terrible war,” he said. “My goal is to impose an embargo on the supply of dual-use technologies, equipment, minerals and ores (and) rare earths to Russia and thus to stop arms production in Russia.”

The United States and Britain on April 6 announced new measures such as sanctions against President Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters in an unprecedented move by Western governments trying to pressure Moscow.

A senior US administration official said on April 6 that the wife and daughter of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were also subject to financial sanctions.

More broadly, the banking giant Sberbank, which is Russia’s largest financial institution, is hit with total blocking sanctions, as well as the private bank Alfa, whose main shareholders have long been considered close to Putin’s inner circle.

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On April 6, Britain also announced new sanctions, including asset freezes targeting Sberbank and the Credit Bank of Moscow, and named eight Russian oligarchs who the British government says are being used by Putin.” to sustain its war economy”.

“Together with our allies, we are showing the Russian elite that they cannot wash their hands of the atrocities committed on Putin’s orders,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said.

The European Union was due to make a similar announcement on April 7.

The senior US administration official who exposed the sanctions in a call with reporters said the US believes many of Putin’s assets are hidden with family members and that’s why his daughters were targeted.

In addition to the sanctions targeting Putin’s daughters and Lavrov’s wife and daughter, the new sanctions also target Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and 20 other members of Russia’s Security Council, including Dmitry Medvedev, a former president and prime minister.

The sanctions freeze all assets the named individuals hold in the United States, the Treasury Department said. They also block all transactions involving any of their property by people in the United States.

Since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, economic sanctions have been the favored tool to punish Russian officials and to try to force changes in Kremlin policies.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Washington has imposed financial sanctions on more than 140 so-called oligarchs – powerful, wealthy and politically connected businessmen – and their family members, as well as to more than 400 government officials and legislators.

Putin himself was hit with Western sanctions for the first time on February 25, a day after Russian forces invaded Ukraine in what has become Europe’s largest military operation since World War II. .

Besides hurting the Russian economy, the sanctions have had little apparent effect on Russia’s actions in Ukraine or elsewhere. That prompted a growing chorus of lawmakers, activists and others to call for tougher sanctions to target people even closer to Putin.

The two daughters Putin has with his now ex-wife, Lyudmila – Yekaterina Tikhonova and Maria Vorontsova – have been kept out of the public eye for years.

Vorontsova, 37, who reportedly has a medical degree, is co-owner of a healthcare investment company aiming to build a new state-of-the-art medical center near St Petersburg.

She was married to a Dutch citizen, but it is not known if they are still together.

Tikhonova, 35, caught attention in the late 2010s when she began performing as an acrobatic dancer and competitive rock and roll dancer.

She later became the director of Innopraktika, a $1.7 billion government-backed project to build a science and research center at Moscow State University.

Tikhonova was previously married to the son of a powerful Kremlin-linked banker named Nikolai Shamalov. The couple reportedly divorced in 2018.

Last year, Tikhonova spoke publicly at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. She was not identified in press materials or Russian media as Putin’s daughter.

Although he was seen regularly with Lyudmila when they married, Putin has said little about his family over the years.

In 2017, during his annual TV show, Putin mentioned his daughters were “involved in science and education” and that they “lived normal, everyday lives”.

With reporting by Rikard Jozwiak, editor-in-chief of RFE/RL Europe