© . FILE PHOTO: Signage on display at the US Treasury Department headquarters in Washington, DC, US, Aug. 29, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
By Daphne Psaledakis, Andrea Shalal and Steve Holland WASHINGTON () – The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on Russia’s central bank and other sources of wealth, dealing a crushing blow to the country’s economy and further punishing Moscow for the invasion of Ukraine. The measures, which prevent Americans from entering into transactions involving the Russian central bank, the Treasury Department or the national wealth fund, are likely to push up Russian inflation, cripple purchasing power and curb investment, US officials said Monday as the new measures came into effect. † The actions include a split for energy payments. Last week, Washington imposed several rounds of sanctions, including against Russian President Vladimir Putin and major banks, after Russian forces invaded Ukraine in the biggest attack on a European state since World War II. “Our goal is to ensure that Russia’s economy deteriorates if President Putin decides to go ahead with an invasion of Ukraine, and we have the tools to keep doing that,” a senior US government official told reporters on Monday. Washington and its allies said on Saturday they would take action against the central bank and exclude a number of Russian banks from the international SWIFT payment system, a list officials say is yet to be finalized with EU partners. Russia’s central bank more than doubled its key policy rate on Monday and introduced some capital controls, but the governor said sanctions had stopped it from selling foreign currencies to support the ruble. The US official said that when it planned its invasion of Ukraine, Russia was counting on it being able to use its central bank’s assets to soften the impact of sanctions, and since Saturday’s announcement, it has been trying to send those assets to Russia or safe havens. to get ports. Monday’s measures “immobilized” all assets the Russian central bank held in the United States, preventing Russia from accessing hundreds of billions of dollars in assets, the official said. “Putin’s $630 billion war chest in reserves only matters if he can use it to defend his currency, especially by selling those reserves in exchange for buying the ruble,” said a second senior government official. “After today’s action, that will no longer be possible and ‘Fortress Russia’ will be exposed as a myth.” Mark Sobel, a former senior Treasury Department official who serves as the US chairman of the OMFIF Forum on Central Banking, Economic Policy and Public Investment, said the move was a “great example of Western unity.” “This all happened overnight, and its power basically cut off an important country from the global financial system,” Sobel told . The US Treasury Department said in a statement Monday that it had also imposed sanctions on a Russian state wealth fund, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which markets Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine internationally, and its management company. Its chief executive, Kirill Dmitriev, accused by Washington of being a close ally of Putin, was also targeted. RDIF said in a statement it was not involved in any political activity and said the restrictions could make the promotion of Sputnik V difficult. , shows that the US has chosen the path to destroy constructive dialogue between countries,” the statement said. Neutral Switzerland on Monday imposed sanctions on Russia and Singapore also announced measures against Moscow. Monday’s action issued a general permit authorizing certain energy-related transactions until June 24. The administration of President Joe Biden was concerned that its sanctions could increase already high gas and energy prices and has taken steps to reduce that. said Washington would continue to fine-tune its measures against Russia to mitigate the impact felt at home and allow a steady supply of energy to global markets, and warned that the United States would not hesitate to take further action against Russia and is actively engaged were investigating measures that e Russia would cut off critical technologies it needs to remain a major energy producer in the longer term, citing similar steps already taken by the European Union. They said Washington was also keeping a close eye on Belarus, adding that the Russian ally could face more punitive measures if it continues to aid Moscow in the invasion.