U.S. President Joe Biden, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen (left) and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (right) speak during a meeting with Cabinet members at the White House on March 3, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images
US President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Friday that clears the way for the US government to impose sanctions on financial institutions that help Russia evade sanctions, the White House said in a statement.
The White House said the executive order is part of a broader U.S. crackdown on sanctions evasion and would also give Washington the authority to expand bans on imports of certain Russian products, including seafood and diamonds.
“We are sending an unmistakable message: Anyone who supports Russia’s illegal war effort has access to the U.S. financial system,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement. “We are at risk of losing our lives,” he said.
The new executive order imposes significant sanctions on financial institutions unless they stop allowing their companies to ship parts and goods to Russia’s defense sector, senior government officials said on condition of anonymity. He said it will be clear which one to face.
The United States and its allies, including the European Union and the United Kingdom, imposed sanctions on Russia after its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. They continue to ratchet up pressure on Moscow, targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin, the financial sector and dozens of oligarchs.
Officials told reporters the order was issued in coordination with allies.
The United States has repeatedly warned companies not to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Russia and has targeted companies in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and China for helping Russia evade sanctions.
Earlier this month, the US imposed sanctions on hundreds of individuals and entities. Including China, Türkiye, United Arab EmiratesThis is because it targets Russia’s ability to evade sanctions.
Senior U.S. officials also visited Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and other countries, warning that companies could lose access to G7 markets if they do business with U.S.-regulated companies.
Although the order does not target any specific countries, it is “clear” that those countries are most involved in evading or violating U.S. sanctions, said Edward, who worked on Russia sanctions at the State Department during President Barack Obama’s administration. Fishman said: This includes China, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.
“This actually signals a more aggressive enforcement posture from the United States and sends a warning to banks and corporations around the world,” said Fishman, now at Columbia University.
Fishman said this sends a message that the United States is likely to take unconventional action in the coming months and sanction even more companies and banks that do business with Russia’s military-industrial complex. He added that he expected many banks to decide to exclude Russia as a result.
The new order directs the U.S. government and its allies to target networks that the Russian government has sought to set up to circumvent these sanctions using front companies and “knowingly financial intermediaries.” one senior official said.
“We have sanctioned many of these companies that we have discovered, but the ultimate challenge to whether these companies and Russia can continue to evade our sanctions is the financial system,” the official said. .
“With this tool, we can target these institutions and give them very tough choices.”
This provision is effective immediately.
Officials said they were not aware of any U.S. or European institutions violating the order, noting that most U.S. and European companies have already significantly reduced their business with Russia. .
Brian O’Toole, a former Treasury official now at the Atlantic Council think tank, said the executive order would allow the Biden administration to use secondary sanctions in a more subtle way.
“This should make it easier to send messages and impose sanctions against Russian sanctions evasion activities and provide a deterrent to those considering doing business that may be connected to the Russian military,” O’Toole said. said.
“These are similar to Iranian-style sanctions,” he said.
The White House said the executive order would also give the U.S. government the power to ban products such as diamonds and seafood that originate in Russia and are processed outside the country.
The action follows G7 countries earlier this month Direct ban on Russian diamonds announced Restrictions on indirect imports of Russian jewelry will begin in stages from January 1st, and will be phased in from around March 1st.