Japan unveils new Russia sanctions

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Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has made it onto the new blacklist

Japan has imposed sanctions on 20 Russian citizens, among them senior officials such as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, lawmakers and TV presenters, citing ongoing military conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry announced the penalties on Tuesday, saying that “in view of the current international situation surrounding Ukraine,” Tokyo would sanction 20 Russian individuals and two organizations, as well as 12 Belarusians and 10 entities in that country. 

The sanctions will largely mean asset freezes and other “payment restrictions” for those named, but also include more specific measures prohibiting the “export of oil refining equipment” to Russia.

In addition to Peskov, the sanctions also targeted Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and businessmen such as Yevgeny Prigozhin, Gennady Timchenko and Boris Rotenberg – each thought to have close ties to Putin. Other members of the Rotenberg and Prigozhin families were also penalized, as well as mining magnate Alisher Usmanov.

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Kadyrov has been a major advocate of the Ukraine offensive, recently asking Putin to give soldiers of Chechen origin the greenlight to capture major Ukrainian cities from Kharkov to Kiev. Some 12,000 Chechen troops are now fighting in Ukraine, according to Kadyrov.

TV presenter Vladimir Soloviev was included on the new sanctions list. Though the ministry did not elaborate on its reasons for sanctioning each person, Soloviev has long been a vocal supporter of the Russian president, including some of his Ukraine policies. 

The Wagner Group – a Russian private military contractor – and its alleged founder Dmitry Utkin were also sanctioned, as was the click-farming operation the Internet Research Agency.

Some of those included in the fresh blacklist had already been sanctioned by the European Union and other member states, with authorities in Germany and Italy seizing assets under their names in recent days. Japan previously announced penalties against President Putin himself, in addition to top officials like Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, following a long list of nations that have brought similar penalties in reaction to Russia’s attack on Ukraine late last month.

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