EU prepares to slap sanctions on Putin's suspected girlfriend: report

On Friday, CNN reported that Alina Kabaeva, the woman long suspected to be Russian President Vladimir Putin's girlfriend, is now on the European Union's proposed list for sanctions.

"At this stage names can be taken off or added at member state discretion, an EU Commission source told CNN," reported Luke McGee. "The EU has not officially signed off on the draft proposal but could do so as early as Friday morning at a meeting of EU ambassadors -- currently underway in the EU's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium."

"Kabaeva, who was born in 1983, was first linked to Putin more than a decade ago, while she was a medal-winning gymnast," said the report. "Putin has denied a relationship with her."

Although the U.S. and Europe have slapped sanctions on numerous Russian billionaires accused of enriching themselves off state resources with Putin's help — the so-called "oligarchs" — they have until this point held off on going after Kabaeva. A report last month indicated that U.S. officials were worried this would be too personal of an attack on Putin and would complicate diplomacy with the Kremlin.

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Other Russians who are being marked for sanctions is Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, a longtime ally of Putin who has used his ecclesiastical position to push Russian propaganda about the invasion of Ukraine, CNN's sources say.

"The EU has been ratcheting up its economic action against Russia since the start of the war in Ukraine," noted the report. "Most recently, the bloc has proposed a ban on Russian oil imports, something that would have a major impact on Russia's economy, though Hungary, an EU member state with close links to Putin, is likely to scupper any such plans."