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Putin’s mistress and his family target of proposed sanctions that U.S. Republicans say could avert Ukraine war

“We need to go after Putin directly and his network of kleptocrats and oligarchs. Weakness is provocative. Without imposing real costs, we won’t deter Putin. We have been pushing for these sanctions for years, further delays will lead to war.”

The Biden administration’s carefully crafted mix of diplomacy and threats of additional sanctions doesn’t seem to be deterring Russian President Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine and starting a war. Now, a large group of House Republicans is pushing President Biden to ramp up the pressure on Putin directly by going after him and his entourage for their long and well-established corruption, writes Josh Rogin in the Washington Post.

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: “Russia could at any point launch an attack in Ukraine.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kyiv on Wednesday; after that he heads to Germany and then plans to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva Friday. Blinken is offering Russia a diplomatic off-ramp while warning that the United States will impose harsh sanctions on Russia if there is a full-scale invasion. That seems like a reasonable mix of carrots and sticks — but as Psaki’s warning shows, the signs suggest it isn’t working.

Putin may calculate that sanctions on the Russian banking or energy sectors might not have much effect. But one thing we do know that Putin cares about is his own illicit fortune. The U.S. government has never really tried to go after the people who launder Putin’s allegedly stolen billions and profit from his gangsterism. A massive new GOP sanctions bill being introduced this week would go after the corruption of Putin himself, every member of his cabinet, his family members and even his alleged longtime mistress Alina Kabaeva.

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