The White House on Friday said the United States would impose sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as Washington looks to ramp up pressure on Moscow following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The rare but not unprecedented U.S. move to impose sanctions on a head of state would come just a day after Russian forces invaded Ukraine, assaulting by land, sea, and air in the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War Two.
White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said the decision to target Putin, Lavrov, and other officials was made after U.S. President Joe Biden had a phone call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Earlier on Friday, EU states and Britain agreed to freeze any European assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday, as Ukraine’s leader pleaded for faster and more forceful sanctions to punish Russia’s invasion of his country.
The United States has in the past imposed sanctions on heads of state, including on Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.
Putin urged Ukraine’s military to overthrow its political leaders and negotiate peace on Friday, as authorities in Kyiv called on citizens to help defend the capital from a Russian assault its mayor said had already begun.
The sanctions targeting Putin would be the latest punitive action from Washington over Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on Russia’s two biggest banks, among others, and members of the elite.
It followed action on Wednesday that designated the company in charge of building Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, and Tuesday’s move, which also targeted Russian banks and elites.