US goes after Putin’s daughters to choke Russia’s finances

The White House believes Katerina Tikhonova and Maria Vorontsova are protecting Putin’s wealth

Katerina Tikhonova and Maria Vorontsova Pic: Twitter

The US along with G-7 and the European Union on Wednesday (April 6) announced a series of additional sanctions targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s wife and the other Russian elites and imposed full blocking sanctions on the country’s largest banks – Sberbank and Alfa Bank – for what it called Kremlin’s atrocities in Ukraine.

The United States believes that Putin’s two daughters, Katerina and Maria, are protecting his wealth. Ironically, the two women never publicly accept Putin as their father.

A tech exec and a medico

Katerina Vladimirovna Tikhonova, 29, is a tech executive and works closely with the Russian defense industry. Maria Vladimirovna Vorontsova is a medical professional who has received billions of dollars from Moscow for genetics research. Putin has personal interest in the research initiated by Maria and has in the past openly supported Maria’s research calling it “the future of science”.

US officials say they have evidence to prove Putin and top officials of the Russian government keep their wealth and assets with family members, who park it in the U.S. financial system.

The US has also targeted the financial dealings of Russian foreign affairs minister Sergei Lavrov’s daughter and wife.

As per Katerina’s own admission, she is married to Kirill Shamalov, son of Nikolai Shamalov, a longtime friend of President Putin. Nikolai Shamalov is a shareholder in Bank Rossiya, which U.S. officials have described as the personal bank of the Russian elite, said a media report.

Maria studied medicine at Moscow State University and is involved in genetic research work. Maria married Dutch businessman Jorrit Joost Faassen, suggest media reports. Faassen was associated with Gazprombank, a large lender with strong links to the elite around Putin.

Continued sanctions

Meanwhile, the United States, the G7 and the European Union pledged to continue to impose severe and immediate economic costs on the Putin regime for its atrocities in Ukraine, including in Bucha.

Also read: Mariupol’s dead estimated at 5,000 as Ukraine braces in the east

“We will document and share information on these atrocities and use all appropriate mechanisms to hold accountable those responsible. As one part of this effort, the United States is announcing devastating economic measures to ban new investment in Russia, and impose the most severe financial sanctions on Russia’s largest bank and several of its most critical state-owned enterprises and on Russian government officials and their family members,” the White House said in a statement.

These sweeping financial sanctions follow the action earlier this week to cut off Russia’s frozen funds in the United States to make debt payments. Importantly, these measures are designed to reinforce each other to generate intensifying impact over time, said the White House.

According to the White House, the US and more than 30 allies and partners across the world have levied the most impactful, coordinated, and wide-ranging economic restrictions in history.

Experts predict Russia’s GDP will contract up to 15 per cent this year, wiping out the last fifteen years of economic gains. Inflation is already spiking above 15 per cent and forecast to accelerate higher, it said.

(With inputs from agencies)