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What Sanctioning Putin Might Mean in Practice

What Sanctioning Putin Might Mean in Practice

Wednesday, 26 January, 2022 - 18:15
Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting with government officials via video conference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, March 22, 2021. (AP

The United States and Britain have said they would consider imposing personal sanctions on President Vladimir Putin if Moscow invades Ukraine. What would that entail?

Tantamount to severing ties?

Personal sanctions typically feature measures like foreign asset freezes and travel bans. Imposing such punitive measures on Putin would likely be seen in Moscow as extremely hostile. The Kremlin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday it would be "politically destructive" and he has previously said the move would amount to severing diplomatic ties with Moscow.

Largely symbolic?

In practice, however, the move might not change much. The Kremlin's veteran spokesperson said sanctions would not actually hurt Putin personally. He said Putin's assets were in Russia and thus out of reach. His salary income was in Bank "Rossiya", which is already under sanctions, Peskov added.

Putin’s official wealth disclosures

Like some other Russian officials, Putin is legally required to disclose his income and assets. According to his most recent official disclosure, the Kremlin leader earned just shy of 10 million roubles ($126,175) in 2020. He also owns an apartment of 77 square meters, two GAZ M21 cars, a Lada Niva offroad vehicle and a trailer. He also has access to an 18-meter square garage and an apartment of 153.7 squared meters, it said.

Is that all?

Putin's most prominent domestic opponent Alexei Navalny who is in jail has alleged the Kremlin leader's wealth is considerably larger and that he owns an opulent palace near the Black Sea coast. The Kremlin denies either Putin or his family own the property. Kremlin critics have also alleged that Putin's wealth is held by a circle of loyal Russian business people on his behalf, something the Kremlin denies.

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