The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday announced new sanctions targeting Russia’s defense industrial base and said the United States — along with three G-7 members: the U.K., Canada and Japan — will ban imports of Russian gold.
The sanctions target 70 entities, including State Corporation Rostec, which the Treasury described as the the cornerstone of Russia’s defense, industrial, technology and manufacturing sectors, as well as 29 Russian individuals.
“Targeting Russia’s defense industry will degrade [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s capabilities and further impede his war against Ukraine, which has already been plagued by poor morale, broken supply chains, and logistical failures,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement announcing the actions, which came as G-7 leaders wrapped up their annual summit meeting, which was held in Germany this year.
Heading into that meeting, President Joe Biden said he expected G-7 leaders to “announce that we will ban the import of Russian gold, a major export that rakes in tens of billions of dollars for Russia.”
However, the Washington Post and other news outlets reported that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed skepticism that a deal on Russian gold imports could be reached at the G-7 summit.
“We are discussing the issue, but it will also have to be discussed within the European Union, and that is why it is not for the G7 to make a final decision,” Scholz told a German news network on Monday.
Likely reflecting that concern, the joint statement issued by G-7 leaders at the end of their meeting on Tuesday does not mention the word “ban.” Instead it says: “We are determined to reduce Russia’s revenues, including from gold.”
In addition, Treasury’s press release does not say the four other G-7 members — the EU, Germany, Italy and France — have agreed to join in the gold import ban. That could be, as Scholz indicated, because the EU would need to first reach agreement between its 27 member states before agreeing to totally cut off Russian gold imports.
A spokesperson for the EU delegation in Washington could not immediately provide clarification on the issue.