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U.S. preparing further sanctions against Russian oligarchs -sources -Breaking

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© Reuters. Russian President Vladimir Putin holds hands with Alisher Usmanov (founder of USM Holdings) at the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia. November 27, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin

Daphne Psaledakis, Matt Spetalnick

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – The United States has begun to prepare a new sanctions package against more Russian oligarchs, their businesses and assets. This is in response to Washington’s increased pressure on Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

According to Reuters sources, some sanctions may be in place as soon as this week. The source also said that Washington has sanctions in place for more members of Putin’s inner circle.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Treasury Department released new guidelines to close loopholes that it claimed Russia used to avoid sanctions.

“Today’s guidance makes clear that such actions on behalf of Russia’s Central Bank are prohibited, closing off attempts to access the U.S. financial system,” the Treasury Department said.

Washington repeatedly stated that it is ready to increase costs for wealthy Russians. A task force named “KleptoCapture” by the U.S. Justice Department was created Wednesday to try and strain Russia’s financial resources.

After Russia invaded Ukraine, the largest attack on an EU state since World War Two, Washington has imposed several rounds sanctions against Putin and its central bank. Moscow called the attack a “special operations.”

Sanctions were imposed against Russian “elites”, according to U.S. Treasury Department. This includes those who have ties with Rosneft or VTB and Sberbank.

The Washington Post first reported that the United States is preparing to increase sanctions against Russian oligarchs.

On Monday, the EU imposed sanctions against 26 people in connection to Russia’s invasion Ukraine. These included oligarchs, businessmen, and people involved in oil, finance, and banking sectors.

In a statement, the EU claimed that this included high-ranking military officers and members of government.

The United States has not yet identified several people on the EU’s Monday list, including Nikolay Tkarev (chief executive of Transneft), Dmitry Chernyshenko (Russia’s deputy prime Minister), and Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesperson.

Ned Price, spokesperson for the State Department on Monday stated that U.S. sanction will “in the end be symmetrical” and mutually strengthening with those of U.S. partners and allies.

Washington has warned repeatedly that it will take additional measures to bring Moscow to justice for the invasion of Ukraine.

Joe Biden, the U.S. president, stated Tuesday night in his State of the Union speech that the United States will work with Russia to seize luxury yachts and private jets of Russians who have ties to Putin.

“We are coming for your ill-begotten gains,” Biden said.

Last week, the United States and allies announced that they will create a task force in order to freeze and identify assets belonging to sanctioned Russian companies.

On Wednesday, the White House stated that the United States was “very open” for Russia to place sanctions. It also considered the market implications as oil prices reached eight-year highs.

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