Biden has sanctioned Putin, but what does this truly mean?

The Biden administration said that it will follow the European Union's lead and impose sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin for his decision to send soldiers into Ukraine.

"Following a phone conversation between President Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and in accordance with our European allies' decision, the United States will join them in sanctioning President Putin, Foreign Minister Lavrov, and members of Russia's national security team," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday.

However, the actual implications of such a move, which the UK is also allegedly considering, are unclear for a variety of reasons.

According to Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign policy leader, Putin and his senior diplomat, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, have been sanctioned in reaction to the escalating situation in Ukraine.

Putin has become an international pariah after ordering his troops to invade Russia's neighbor to the west, Ukraine.
Putin has become an international pariah after ordering his troops to invade Russia’s neighbor to the west, Ukraine.

“Let me flag that the only leaders in the world that are sanctioned by the European Union are Assad from Syria, Lukashenko from Belarus and now Putin from Russia,” Borrell told a news conference after a meeting of EU foreign ministers to settle details of the bloc’s sanctions.

Borrell added: “I can assure you that if you got major assets and all of a sudden you can’t get hold of them, it will cost you.”

Slapping sanctions on individuals entails preventing them from travel to and from certain jurisdictions. It also bans companies from engaging in any sort of transaction with those persons, whether it be banks, private schools, or other entities.

Ukraine War map
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as of Feb. 25, 2022.
New York Post composite

The United States has imposed restrictions on Russian banks, preventing them from accessing the American financial system.

Putin's spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, has stated that any penalties imposed on his boss would be "politically detrimental" to US-Russian relations, but not necessarily "painful" for Putin personally.

This is due to the fact that Putin's assets, which are thought to be larger than any human in the world, remain hidden from view.

Putin does not need to keep his assets in traditional institutions such as banks or brokerage firms because he controls the entire Russian economy, including huge oil and natural gas stockpiles as well as a diverse variety of natural resources.

The president's inner circle includes oligarchs with fortunes in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The high net worth of these buddies, who hide their riches in offshore tax havens, shows that Putin is far wealthier than he admits.

According to official Kremlin declarations, Putin receives $140,000 per year. According to papers, he also owns three cars, a trailer, and an 800-square-foot apartment.

Those with comprehensive understanding of the Russian economy, on the other hand, believe Putin's net worth rivals that of the world's wealthiest people.

The EU has sanctioned Putin as well as his top diplomat, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The EU has sanctioned Putin as well as his top diplomat, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
AFP via Getty Images

Bill Browder, a US billionaire barred from entering Russia following a run-in with the Kremlin, told the US Senate in 2017 that Putin was "one of the wealthiest individuals in the world." According to Browder, his total assets were estimated at $200 billion.

“Everything that belongs to the territory of the Russian Federation Putin considers to be his,” exiled Russian billionaire Sergei Pugachev, a former member of Putin’s inner circle, told the Guardian in 2015.

“Any attempt to calculate [his net worth] won’t succeed.”

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