US sanctions target Russian media

Russia At War

(NewsNation) — The United States announced new sanctions this weekend, cutting off Western advertising from Russia’s three biggest TV stations as Russian President Vladimir Putin used a major patriotic holiday Monday to again justify his war in Ukraine.

The majority of Russia’s broadcast TV are controlled by the state. These latest sanctions target the three most popular channels: Channel One Russia, Russia-1 and NTV Broadcasting Company.

In March, a Channel One Russia producer infamously stormed the set, crashing the live broadcast with a sign to protest Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

In just the last year alone, these stations brought in more than $300 million in advertising money, with the revenue feeding back to the Russian state. These sanctions cut off advertising revenue from the West as well as the equipment — like cameras and microphones — these stations need to function.

The United States also amped up visa restrictions on Russian and Belarusian officials. The U.S. has imposed 2,600 visa restrictions on officials from Russia and Belarus. For context: when the U.S. first started implementing visa restrictions in March, it only blocked 19 Russian oligarchs and 47 of their family members and close associates.

The new visa restriction policy also blocks Russian Federation military officials who are believed to have been involved in human rights abuses, violations of international humanitarian law, or public corruption in Ukraine.

G7 leaders are hoping this latest round of sanctions sends the clear message: There will be no safe haven for the Russian economy if Putin’s invasion continues

The United States also banned U.S. accounting and consulting firms from providing services, and cut off Russia’s industrial sector from wood products, industrial engines, boilers and bulldozers.

The measures leveled against Gazprombank executives were the first involving the giant Russian gas exporter as the United States and its allies have avoided taking steps that might lead to disruptions of gas to Europe, Russia’s main customer.

“This is not a full block. We’re not freezing the assets of Gazprombank or prohibiting any transactions with Gazprombank,” a senior Biden administration official told Reuters. “What we’re signaling is that Gazprombank is not a safe haven, and so we’re sanctioning some of their top business executives … to create a chilling effect.”

The sanctions come as Putin oversaw a Victory Day parade on Red Square, with troops marching in formation, military hardware on display and a brass band blaring to mark the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany. But his much-anticipated speech offered no new insights to how he intended to salvage the grinding war — and instead stuck to allegations that Ukraine posed a threat to Russia, even though Moscow’s nuclear-armed forces are far superior in numbers and firepower.

Many analysts had suggested Putin might use his speech to declare some sort of limited victory — potentially in the besieged strategic port city of Mariupol — as he looks for an exit from the conflict that has unleashed punishing sanctions from the West and strained Russia’s resources. Others suggested he might order a nationwide mobilization to beef up the depleted ranks for an extended conflict. 

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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