U.S. Targets Vladimir Putin's Reputed Girlfriend With New Russia Sanctions

Alina Maratovna Kabaeva, an Olympic medalist and former State Duma member, has a "close relationship to Putin," the U.S. Treasury Department said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, speaks with gymnast Alina Kabaeva at a Kremlin banquet in Moscow, Russia, on Nov. 4, 2004.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, speaks with gymnast Alina Kabaeva at a Kremlin banquet in Moscow, Russia, on Nov. 4, 2004.
TAR-TASS, Presidential Press Service via Associated Press

The U.S. on Tuesday announced a new round of sanctions targeting Russian companies and elites, including a 39-year-old former Olympic gymnast who is reportedly romantically involved with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as the war in Ukraine enters its sixth month.

The Treasury Department said it is sanctioning, among others, Olympic gold medalist Alina Maratovna Kabaeva, a former state Duma member and head of a pro-Kremlin media empire. She has a “close relationship to Putin,” Treasury said.

Treasury’s list also includes Putin ally Andrey Grigoryevich Guryev, who served in the Russian government and owns a leading chemical company, as well as his yacht Alfa Nero, which Treasury said has “reportedly shut off its location tracking hardware in order to avoid seizure.” The sanctions extend to Guryev’s son, Andrey Andreevich Guryev.

Viktor Filippovich Rashnikov, the owner of one of the world’s biggest steel companies who Treasury said provides a big source of revenue for the Kremlin, is also subject to sanctions, as is Natalya Valeryevna Popova, the deputy director of a Russian technology company.

“As innocent people suffer from Russia’s illegal war of aggression, Putin’s allies have enriched themselves and funded opulent lifestyles,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said.

We “will use every tool at our disposal to make sure that Russian elites and the Kremlin’s enablers are held accountable for their complicity in a war that has cost countless lives,” Yellen added.

The State Department on Tuesday also announced further sanctions on 24 Russian defense and technology-related entities.

“Russia has systematically focused on exploiting high-technology research and innovations to advance Moscow’s war-fighting capabilities – the same defense capabilities that Russia’s military is using in its vicious attacks hitting Ukraine’s population centers and resulting in the deaths of civilians, including children,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

Blinken singled out three Russian oligarchs: Dmitry Aleksandrovich Pumpyanskiy, Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko and Alexander Anatolevich Ponomarenko.

The State Department has also issued visa restrictions on 893 Russian Federation officials and 31 foreign government officials who have supported Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

“The United States will not waver in its support for the brave people of Ukraine and will continue to promote accountability for President Putin and his cronies whose actions have caused so much suffering and destruction in Ukraine,” he said.

Daniel Fried, a former coordinator for U.S. sanctions policy in Barack Obama’s administration, commended U.S. efforts to punish Putin but said they were not enough. He told The New York Times a global price ceiling on the purchase price of Russian oil, which G-7 leaders discussed in June, would be a stronger measure.

“They need to deliver — it’s been a month,” Fried said. “They need something effective to eat into Putin’s income. This package is good, but the need requires even more.”

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