The White House said on Monday that it had developed “specific sanctions packages” to strike at Russian “elites” who are “in or near the inner circle of the Kremlin” should President Vladimir V. Putin order an invasion of Ukraine.
President Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, said the sanctions were being coordinated with American allies, chiefly in Europe. She confirmed reports that President Biden has authorized taking steps that go far beyond what the Obama White House approved after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
Ms. Psaki said nothing about going directly after Mr. Putin’s own assets, but senior officials have said in recent days that some of the names on the list include oligarchs and others who are widely believed to be holding assets for the Russian leader.
“The individuals we’ve identified are at or near the inner circle of the Kremlin and play a role in government decision-making or are at a minimum complicit in the Kremlin’s destabilizing behavior,’’ Ms. Psaki said. “Many of these individuals are particularly vulnerable targets because of their deep financial ties with the West, because they would be hurt by sanctions that are tying them to Western financial systems.”
She called the list, which the White House did not publish, “one piece of our effort to hit Russia from all angles” in the event of an invasion.
Many of those said to be on the list have known for years they were potentially in American cross-hairs, and some have presumably moved their assets to try to put them out of reach. But the extent of their success may not be known unless the sanctions are invoked.
Until Monday the White House had talked publicly only about cutting off Russia’s largest banks from conducting financial transactions; restricting the export of key technologies needed by major Russian manufacturers, including arms suppliers; and limiting access to consumer goods, especially those containing American-made or American-designed microelectronics.
In the past, the United States has been cautious about striking directly at the assets of Mr. Putin, his cabinet and his advisers. Now, Mr. Biden and his aides have concluded that it would be better strategy to signal that they would be personally cut off from the international financial system and that their cash and investments could not be parked in Western markets.
In a striking departure, the United States also plans to ban the children of some elite Russian figures from attending prestigious universities in the United States and Europe. Like the Chinese elite, many powerful Russians send their children to the best colleges and graduate schools in the United States and Europe.
British government officials also confirmed on Monday that they planned parallel sanctions.