WASHINGTON – The Biden administration is preparing sanctions against most members of Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of parliament, as part of an attempt to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.
President Biden intends to announce the sanctions against more than 300 members of the Russian State Duma as early as Thursday during his trip to Europe, where he will meet with allies from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to formulate their next steps, according to US officials and internal documents seen by The Wall Street Journal.
The sanctions will be announced in coordination with the EU and members of the group of seven industrialized countries, US officials said.
The National Security Council declined to comment.
The sanctions have so far failed to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and it is not clear what effect the action will have on Russian lawmakers.
Planned sanction packages are often postponed, reworked or narrowed during the cross-government review process before being finalized and made public, an official said.
The forthcoming sanctions package, which will target 400 people, including 328 lawmakers and Russian elites, is coming as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its fourth week.
Sanctions were imposed on Mr Putin himself last month, as well as against a number of top officials in his government.
So far, Russia’s military progress has been slower than many had expected, and Ukraine’s resistance stronger, but Mr Putin has shown little interest in de-escalating the crisis.
The Russian Federal Assembly consists of the State Duma with 450 seats and an upper chamber with 170 seats, the Federation Council.
The Duma, although far less powerful than the Russian president, has been given increased constitutional responsibility in recent years, especially with regard to the country’s economic affairs. It also acts as a link between different sections of the population and the government, forwarding complaints and concerns upwards and distributing state aid to the public.
Last month, Russian lawmakers passed a direct appeal to Mr Putin to recognize the Russian-controlled separatist states of Donetsk and Luhansk, a move that anticipated Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
This month, a committee in the State Duma approved a law criminalizing the distribution of what it said was “fake news” about Russia’s military operations against Ukraine. The bill included potential prison sentences of up to 15 years.
Write to Vivian Salama at [email protected]
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