The sweeping new sanctions — taken with Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Canada, the European Union and others — come as Russia’s economy is already in freefall.
“No country is sanction proof,” a White House official said. “Putin’s war chest of $630 billion in reserves only matters if you can use it to defend his currency, specifically by selling those reserves in exchange for buying the ruble.”
In a phone call with reporters Monday morning, a senior administration official said the move was “the culmination of months of planning and preparation across our respective governments across technical, diplomatic and political channels, including at the highest levels.”
“We were ready and that’s what allowed us to act within days, not weeks or months, of Putin’s escalation,” the official said.
“Our strategy, to put it simply, is to make sure that the Russian economy goes backward as long as President Putin decides to go forward with his invasion of Ukraine,” a second senior administration official said.
One official called the ongoing sanctions a “vicious feedback loop that’s triggered by Putin’s own choices and accelerated by his own aggression.”
The sanctions also fully block the Russian Direct Investment Fund and its CEO, Kirill Dmitriev. Officials said they were “symbols of deep seated Russian corruption and influence peddling globally.”
“Today’s actions represent the most significant actions the US Treasury has taken against an economy of this size and assets of this size,” another official said. “What also makes this asset significant is not just the amount of assets or the size of the country we’re targeting, but the speed at which our partners and allies have worked with us to enact this response.”
Asked about potential additional sanctions on Belarus, which appears poised to elevate its role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an official said the US is watching events “very carefully” and that sanctions on Belarus would “continue to ratchet much higher.”
This is a breaking story and will be updated.