(NewsNation) — The U.S. has frozen the assets of 852 different individuals connected to the Russian government in retaliation for the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The United States and its allies have announced a plethora of sanctions against the Russian government and oligarchs over the course of the last month. Western allies have vowed to punish Russian oligarchs for their ties to Putin and support for the invasion of Ukraine. The White House earlier this month released a list of “Putin’s cronies,” whose assets are being targeted in order to make sure Russia’s rich and powerful feel the heat. Of the 20 richest Russian oligarchs, only four have been sanctioned by the United States.
Some of the wealthiest non-sanctioned individuals include:
- Vladimir Potanin, a metals magnate worth $30 billion and a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
- Leonid Mikhelson, an oil and gas tycoon worth $29 billion, according to Bloomberg.
- Vladimir Lisin, a steel tycoon worth $28 billion.
The United States has avoided sanctioning some of the wealthiest individuals who have business in the metals or energy industry. Those Russian businessmen own significant stakes in major companies that supply western nations.
If you sanction these individuals, banks and other companies won’t do business with them, which then hurts western nations that need things like gas and metals to make semiconductor chips.
This doesn’t mean the United States won’t change its mind and sanction more billionaires, but any sanctions will be weighed against the overall impact on Western nations.
Despite the threat of international sanctions on Russia’s wealthiest, including Putin, there is growing concern that those penalties won’t even touch the billions of dollars the Russians have globally.
The Atlantic Council estimates Russians have about a trillion dollars of dark money hidden globally. A 2017 study of Russian oligarchs published by the U.S.-based National Economic Bureau estimated that as much as $800 billion is held by wealthy Russians in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Cyprus and similar offshore banking centers. That vast fortune, held by a few hundred ultra-rich individuals, is roughly equal to the wealth of the entire rest of the Russian population of 144 million people.