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US, allies have frozen ‘$330bn of Russian assets’ since Ukraine war

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows the building of the US Treasury Department in Washington.

The United States and its Western allies have frozen more than $330 billion in financial resources owned by Russia’s elite and its central bank since the war in Ukraine began in late February, a task force says.

In a statement released by the US Treasury on Wednesday, a group known as ‘Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs Task Force (REPO)’ said it had blocked $30 billion in assets of Russian elite and officials, and immobilized $300 billion owned by the central bank.

They have also impounded at least five luxury yachts and frozen opulent real estate owned by Russian billionaires.

"Together, we will ensure that our sanctions continue to impose costs on Russia for its unprovoked and continuing aggression in Ukraine," the statement read.

The US Department of Justice also said the REPO Task Force will over the next few months “continue to track Russian sanctioned assets and prevent sanctioned Russians from undermining the measures that REPO members have jointly imposed.”

REPO was formed on March 17, three weeks into the war. Its members include top finance and justice officials of the United States, Australia, France, Canada, Germany, Japan, Italy, Britain and the European Commission.

Western countries, led by the US, have slapped unprecedented sanctions on Russia since President Putin announced the military operation in Ukraine on February 24 to demilitarize and “de-Nazify” it.

A former US sanctions official has said the United States is pushing Russia toward default by blocking debt payments, as Washington ups the ante in its economic warfare against Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine.

Moscow has so far successfully managed to make its international bond payments despite the US-led sanctions.

The Kremlin has not defaulted on its external debt for more than 100 years. It has several billions of international bonds and last month made overdue bond payments to avoid default.

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