US blacklists Russian neo-Nazi fighters, children's rights head
Russian Children's Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova (R, with Russian President Vladirmir Putin) was accused by the US of directing an operation to remove children from Ukraine to place with Russian families. Mikhail Klimentyev SPUTNIK/AFP

The US Treasury placed top Russian finance officials, a neo-Nazi fighter group, and a children's rights official who allegedly directs the removal of Ukrainian children to Russia on its sanctions blacklist Thursday.

Some 22 individuals and two entities were added to the Treasury's blacklist, including justice officials in occupied Crimea and members of Chechen Republic leader Ramzan Kadyrov's family.

In a parallel move, the Treasury and US Commerce Department banned the export of quantum computing services, hardware and software to Russia and Belarus in a move the Treasury said would degrade Moscow's ability to rebuild its military after heavy losses in the continuing war with Ukraine.

"As Ukraine presses forward with defending its freedom, today we're taking steps to further degrade Russia's ability to rebuild its military, hold perpetrators of violence accountable, and further financially isolate (Russian President Vladimir) Putin," said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in a statement.

The new sanctions took aim at the heads of key Russian financial institutions including NSPK, which runs the Mir payment card network; the National Settlement Depository; CCP NCC, which manages settlement for the Moscow stock exchange; and the Deposit Insurance Agency.

The Treasury blacklisted Maria Alexeyevna Lvova-Belova, the Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights.

Working directly under Putin, the Treasury said, Lvova-Belova has overseen the deportation of "thousands" of Ukrainian children to Russia.

"Lvova-Belova's efforts specifically include the forced adoption of Ukrainian children into Russian families, the so-called 'patriotic education' of Ukrainian children, legislative changes to expedite the provision of Russian Federation citizenship to Ukrainian children, and the deliberate removal of Ukrainian children by Russia's forces," it said.

The Treasury also put sanctions on Task Force Rusich, a neo-Nazi paramilitary group fighting in Ukraine associated with the Wagner mercenary army controlled by close Putin advisor Yevgeny Prigozhin.

US Treasury sanctions aim to freeze any assets those designated might have under US jurisdiction and forbid any US individuals or companies -- including international banks with US operations -- to do business with them, effectively limiting their access to global financial networks.

© 2022 AFP