A new US federal "KleptoCapture" task force will be dedicated to enforcing sanctions, export restrictions and economic countermeasures designed to freeze Russia out of global markets.
New Delhi: All kinds of actions and concrete moves are on from the western powers to corner Russia on the global stage and primarily on the economic front to pressure Moscow to cease its invasion of Ukraine.
The US Justice Department last week launched a task force aimed at choking off assets that Russian oligarchs own in the United States. A new US federal "KleptoCapture" task force will work to further strain the finances of Russia's oligarchs.
The interagency law enforcement group will be dedicated to enforcing sanctions, export restrictions and economic countermeasures designed to freeze Russia out of global markets, Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.
The task force's name comes from the word "kleptocracy," defined as corrupt individuals who misuse their powers to accumulate wealth at the expense of those they govern.
"To those bolstering the Russian regime through corruption and sanctions evasion: we will deprive you of safe haven and hold you accountable," said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. "Oligarchs be warned: we will use every tool to freeze and seize your criminal proceeds," she added.
Actions are being initiated even by big business houses. Boeing Co. said on Monday (March 7) that it has suspended buying titanium from Russia.
Experts say one of the ironies of the war in Ukraine is that Russia's finances stand to benefit every time the crisis deepens. After Saudi Arabia, Russia is the second biggest exporter of crude oil, and it is out on its own as an exporter of natural gas.
The European Union has concerns even as it has taken steps to implement sanctions on Russia. In fact, the European Union gets 40 of its natural gas from Russia.
After US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US and its allies were actively considering adding oil and gas to the sanctions list, Germany clarified that Russian energy was "essential" to Europeans' daily lives.
UK PM Boris Johnson also expressed caution, making it clear that a ratcheting-up of sanctions to include oil and gas could not happen overnight.
Of course, with the rouble hitting fresh lows against the US dollar, Russia is already feeling the impact of sanctions.
British Ministers say they want to tackle the tangle of secrecy and deception that has long surrounded money stripped out of overseas economies and poured into British property, assets and banks. However, scepticism remains whether such a measure will do anything to halt the current killing and chaos in Ukraine, but PM Boris Johnson insists the bill will "continue to tighten the noose around Putin's regime".
Among its other measures, the new legislation will create a public register of the owners of overseas interests that buy and sell property in the UK to lift the veil provided by shell companies. There will be reforms to the system of unexplained wealth orders as well.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin held a phone call with European Council President Charles Michel on Ukraine, during which Putin urged the European Union to pressure authorities in Kyiv to respect humanitarian law.