EU clears sanctions on some of Russia’s wealthiest tycoons

The EU previously sanctioned 23 high-ranking individuals in retaliation for Putin’s recognition of separatist territories in eastern Ukraine included banking executives, military chiefs, media figures and a top Kremlin official, but not that many billionaires.
Alisher Usmanov, Russian billionaire. Image: Bloomberg

The European Union adopted sanctions on some of Russia’s wealthiest tycoons as the bloc ratchets up penalties on Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

The list includes a handful of billionaires who haven’t yet been hit by sanctions in the US: metals tycoon Alisher Usmanov, Alfa Group owners Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, plus Alexei Mordashov, who controls a major steel company. Bloomberg first reported the names on Sunday.

The EU is already working on further measures to penalise more oligarchs, according to two people familiar with the plans, who asked not to be identified because the work is private.

The EU has now passed a broad set of measures — from banning transactions with the Russian central bank to shutting down its airspace to Russian planes — in an effort to isolate Moscow from the global financial system and to try to dissuade President Vladimir Putin from his campaign against Ukraine.

Banks, media companies

Also included in the measures are Putin’s longtime spokesman Dmitry Peskov, as well as a number of state-media figures the EU accused of spreading propaganda and senior military officials. Cellist and longtime Putin friend Sergei Roldugin was also included.

The bloc is working on proposals to cut some Russian banks out of SWIFT, the international payments system, and ban Russian state-backed media RT and Sputnik from the EU.

The EU previously sanctioned 23 high-ranking individuals in retaliation for Putin’s recognition of separatist territories in eastern Ukraine included banking executives, military chiefs, media figures and a top Kremlin official, but not that many billionaires.

Rejecting allegations

Some of those sanctioned later issued statements rejecting the allegations behind the move.

Mordashov said “I have absolutely nothing to do with the emergence of the current geopolitical tension, and I do not understand why the EU has imposed sanctions on me.”

A statement issued on behalf of Fridman and Aven described them as “committed long-term investors to European businesses employing tens of thousands of people in the UK and Europe.” It said they said they will contest the sanctions that were based on “malicious and deliberate falsehoods – pure and simple, the product of historical fantasies and conspiracy theories dreamt up by private individuals with their own agendas.”

© 2022 Bloomberg

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