The United Kingdom is going after Vladimir Putin‘s women.
No. 10 Downing Street announced Friday it has imposed sanctions on the Russian president’s gymnast reputed girlfriend, Alina Kabaeva; her grandmother, Anna Zatseplina; and Putin’s ex-wife, Lyudmila Ocheretnaya. The moves follow sanctions against several oligarchs close, or once close to the embattled Russian leader, and target his innermost circle.
“Putin relies on his network of family, childhood friends, and selected elite who have benefited from his rule and in turn support his lifestyle,” the U.K. said in a news release. “Their reward is influence over the affairs of the Russian state that goes far beyond their formal positions.
“Today’s sanctions will hit this cabal who owe Putin their wealth and power, and in turn support Putin and his war machine,” the release continued.
Kabaeva, a retired Olympic gymnast, is chairwoman of the board of the National Media Group, Russia’s largest private media company. She previously served as a deputy in the Duma for Putin’s United Russia. Her grandmother, Zatseplina, is an associate of Gennady Timchenko – a longtime Putin crony, sanctioned by the U.K. in February.
Ocheretnaya, the former first lady of the Russian Federation who Putin divorced in 2014, enjoys a lavish lifestyle and wields power within Moscow circles.
“We are exposing and targeting the shady network propping up Putin’s luxury lifestyle and tightening the vise on his inner circle,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said. “We will keep going with sanctions on all those aiding and abetting Putin’s aggression until Ukraine prevails.”
Other sanctions announced by the U.K. hit Putin’s blood relatives. They included:
- Igor Putin, first cousin of Putin and a Russian businessman who is director of Pechenga International Sea Port
- Mikhail Putin, a relative of Putin who holds key positions at Russian energy giant Gazprom and insurance carrier SOGAZ
- Roman Putin, first cousin once removed of Putin whose company, Putin Consulting, helps foreign investors in Russia
- Mikhail Shelomov, Putin’s first cousin, once removed and a key shareholder in Kremlin-tied Bank Rossiya, which was sanctioned in February
Others sanctioned by the U.K. Friday included a childhood pal and several businessmen.
“Today’s sanctions isolate the family members and financiers deep within Putin’s inner circle, compounding the pressure on Putin as he continues his senseless invasion into Ukraine,” the U.K. said.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, at least 2,345 Ukrainian civilians have died, and 2,919 have been injured, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said in an update last month. Thousands of soldiers are also known to have been killed on both sides.
More than 12 million people have fled since the conflict began, with 5.7 million seeking refuge in adjacent countries and another 6.5 million displaced inside Ukraine.