© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of Gazprombank is seen at a branch office in Moscow, Russia March 31, 2022. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo
By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland
WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) – The United States on Sunday unveiled sanctions against three Russian television stations, banned Americans from providing accounting and consulting services to Russians, and sanctioned executives from Gazprombank to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.
The new sanctions are the latest effort by the United States to increase pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin after his country’s assault on Ukraine and came as President Joe Biden met virtually with G7 leaders and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to discuss the war.
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 reporters. “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.”
Eight executives from Sberbank, which holds one-third of Russia’s banking assets, were added to the sanctions list. Moscow Industrial Bank and its 10 subsidiaries were also added.
The new export control restrictions were aimed at directly degrading Putin’s war effort, including controls on industrial engines, bulldozers, wood products, motors, and fans. The European Union is moving in tandem with additional controls on chemicals that feed directly into the Russian military effort, the official said.
Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” that it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy its southern neighbor’s military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists. Ukraine and its allies say Russia launched an unprovoked war.
Limited Liability Company Promtekhnologiya, a weapons maker, was sanctioned, along with seven shipping companies and a marine towing company. The White House also said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would suspend licenses for exports of special nuclear material to Russia.
The sanctioned television stations are directly or indirectly state-controlled, the White House said, and included Joint Stock Company Channel One Russia, Television Station Russia-1, and Joint Stock Company NTV Broadcasting Company.
Americans will be prohibited from providing accounting, trust and corporate formation, and management consulting services to Russians, though providing legal services is still permissible.