Tuesday

24th Apr 2018

US blacklists Putin's bankers, as EU leaders meet

The US has blacklisted Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s financial associates and personal confidantes, as EU leaders consider similar measures.

The new US list of 20 people and one bank comes after Russia annexed Crimea on Tuesday (17 March) in defiance of the US and EU’s previous sanctions.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Obama with the interim Ukrainian PM in Washington last week (Photo: whitehouse.gov)

The latest US designations include: Yuri Kovalchuk, the main shareholder in Bank Rossyia; the bank itself; businessmen and Putin judo partners Arkady and Boris Rotenberg; and Gennady Timchenko, head of Russian commodity trading firm Gunvor.

The US treasury described Kovalchuk as “the personal banker for senior officials of the Russian Federation including Putin.”

It said the Rotenberg brothers made inflated profits on Sochi Olympics contracts. It noted that Putin “has investments in Gunvor and may have access to Gunvor funds.”

The new US list also targets some of Putin’s oldest confidantes: Russian railway chief Vladimir Yakunin and anti-drugs tsar Viktor Ivanov.

The rest of the names are high-level Kremlin officials - Igor Sergun, Sergei Ivanov, Alexei Gromov, Andrei Fursenko, and Vladimir Kozhin - and MPs.

"Russia must know that further escalation will only isolate it further from the international community," US President Barack Obama said on TV while announcing the measures.

He spoke as EU leaders met in Brussels to consider their own list.

EU ambassadors on Wednesday agreed a draft register of 12 Russian names to add to a previous EU list of 13.

Diplomatic sources say the new EU list includes deputy PM Dmitry Rogozin, two Kremlin aides - Sergey Glazyev and Vladislav Surkov - and Kremlin propagandist Dmitry Kiselyov.

If adopted, it would see the EU playing catch-up with the US, whose lists are much more severe.

The Union is also going to cancel its next Russia summit.

Poland and the UK had wanted to go further, by imposing economic sanctions on parts of Russian industry. But Germany, for one, wants to leave the so-called “third phase” of EU measures in reserve in case the situation gets even worse.

Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt told press in Brussels “there is a worry that provocations in Ukraine will continue and also expand to other parts of Europe.”

He said he does not expect Thursday’s EU decision to change Putin’s mind.

But he said the Western stigma will harm the Russian economy and undermine his popularity at home in the long term.

French President Francois Hollande noted: “We have to prepare economic sanctions, even if we don't decide on them today, because the threat of economic sanctions is a means of pressure."

Earlier in the day, France said it might not deliver $1.2 billion worth of naval vessels to Russia in October depending on developments.

Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades added on his way into the EU summit: “There are many things to consider. First, the principles. Second, the impact on our economies.”

Russia has already lost billions on stock exchange and currency markets over the crisis, while US ratings agency S&P on Thursday changed its Russia outlook from “stable” to “negative.”

But Putin has mocked the West’s response, while threatening blacklists of his own and proceeding with Crimea annexation formalities.

The sanctions battle has also dragged in a Belgian MEP.

Russian broadcaster NTV on Thursday showed CCTV footage and bugged audio of Guy Verhofstadt, a fomer Belgian PM and the leader of the Liberal group in the European Parliament, meeting in a Moscow hotel with Russian anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny last year.

A voice alleged to be Navalny’s says: "You are interested not just in the future of Russian politics ... We need a kind of practical help in the investigation.”

NTV claimed the two men discussed sums of money to be paid out by Verhofstadt.

The broadcast caused mirth in the EU parliament in Brussels. But it could augur serious problems for Navalny, who is already under house arrest pending trial on a laundry list petty crimes.

EU leaders agree new Russia sanctions

EU leaders have reacted to Russia's annexation of Crimea by blacklisting 12 new names and agreeing to send EU peace monitors if need be.

Feature

Spain makes bid for EU naval HQ

Spanish special forces seized a boat from African 'pirates' as diplomats watched on Monday, in a drill marking Spain's bid to grab a top EU military mission from the UK.

EU toes the line on Syria air strikes

EU foreign ministers to back Western air strikes on Syria, the same way they backed the UK over Russia's chemical attack on an ex-spy in Britain.

Focus

Greenland votes with eye on independence

Six out of seven political parties running in Greenland's parliamentary elections on Tuesday are pro-independence, but they disagree on how fast the last ties to Copenhagen should be cut. Increasing dependence on China could be the consequence.

Opinion

How Russian propaganda depicts Europe - should we worry?

Russian domestic television - the only source of foreign news for most Russians - consistently shows Europe over-run by immigrants, beset by terrorist atrocities, and on strike. This has serious consequences.

News in Brief

  1. Far-right attack migrants on Greek island
  2. Merkel defends accepting UN refugees
  3. EU commissioner plans Malta 'money laundering' inspection
  4. Survey: Half of high polluting farms receive CAP subsidies
  5. Commission will 'not shy away' from Malta killing repercussions
  6. EU Commission opens probe on Alitalia state loan
  7. Paris suspect given 20-year sentence for Brussels shoot-out
  8. Merkel and Pena Nieto praise EU-Mexico trade agreement

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  3. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  4. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  6. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  7. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  8. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  9. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  10. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  11. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight

Latest News

  1. Juncker delays air quality action due to busy agenda
  2. Spain makes bid for EU naval HQ
  3. How Russian propaganda depicts Europe - should we worry?
  4. MEPs tell Chinese ambassador of concerns on trade
  5. Greenland votes with eye on independence
  6. EU court delivers blow to anti-abortion activists
  7. Hungary activists defiant after 'Soros Mercenaries' attack
  8. European Commission proposes whistleblower protection law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  2. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  3. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  6. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  7. European Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  8. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  9. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  10. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  11. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  12. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations