Ukraine crisis: Who are Russians with ‘close personal ties to Putin’ targeted by UK’s sanctions?

The UK has sanctioned three billionaires and five banks largely for their roles in Crimea

August Graham
Wednesday 23 February 2022 10:03 GMT
UK to announce new sanctions on Russia, Liz Truss says

UK’s prime minister has announced that it will hit five Russian banks and three wealthy individuals with sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine.

The move is part of Britain’s “first barrage” of punitive measures ahead of a feared full-scale invasion by Moscow.

Boris Johnson told the Commons on Tuesday that immediate sanctions would be deployed against the Russian banks Rossiya, IS Bank, General Bank, Promsvyazbank and the Black Sea Bank, as well as three “very high net wealth individuals”.

But who exactly are the targets? Here’s what you need to know:


The bank was founded by brothers Dmitry and Alexei Ananyev but was seized by Russian authorities in 2017 and the brothers were accused of fraud.

Interpol later found that found the prosecution of the brothers was politically motivated.

According to UK Government sources, Promsvyazbank now services 70% of state contracts signed by Russia’s defence ministry and is a “pivotal bank” for the country’s military-industrial complex.

In the early 2010s, the bank briefly flirted with listing on the London Stock Exchange.

Bank Rossiya

Tracing its roots back to the early 1990s before the USSR fell, Rossiya Bank is favoured by the wealthy and powerful, according to Government sources.

One of the top 20 banks in the country, it has been blacklisted for years and was put on US sanctions lists after the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

The move forced the bank to draw back into Russia and according to the Moscow Times it became the first big bank to start opening branches in Crimea.

According to the US Treasury, which sanctioned the bank in 2014, it is “the personal bank for senior officials of the Russian Federation” including Putin’s inner circle.

It has supported the integration of Crimea into Russia, the UK Government said and “offers support to military activities and the formation of major transport links and cards that allow the public to travel easily around the peninsula”.

IS Bank

The bank has nine branches in Russia according to its website, but its “business development is directly tied to the annexation of Crimea”, according to the UK Government.

It was designated by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control, which runs the country’s sanctions, in 2017 for “operating in Crimea”.

Black Sea Bank for Development and Reconstruction

Added to the same US sanctions list in 2017 that IS Bank was on, the Black Sea Bank also operates in Crimea.

It was “created immediately after the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014” and has “consolidated Crimea into the Russian Federation through the financial system”, according to the UK Government

According to its website, its biggest markets are Russia and Turkey and it also does a lot of business in Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece.

General Bank

Like IS Bank and Black Sea Bank, General Bank, or Genbank, was sanctioned by the US years ago for its involvement in Crimea.

“Targeting these entities for operating in the Crimea region of Ukraine underscores the United States’ commitment to opposing Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea,” the US said at the time.

It is the biggest of the three small banks sanctioned by the UK on Tuesday, the 92nd largest in Russia, Reuters reported, citing data from financial marketplace

Gennady Timchenko

Russia’s sixth richest man according to Government sources, Forbes lists Mr Timchenko’s net worth as 23.9 billion dollars (£17.6 billion).

He is a major shareholder in Bank Rossiya which “is a key stakeholder in the National Media Group which supports Russian policy which is destabilising Ukraine”, the Government said.

He was sanctioned by the US in 2014 and is reportedly close to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Boris Rotenberg

Another wealthy Russian who has been under US sanctions since 2014, Mr Rotenberg co-owns SMP Bank with his brother Arkady, who is already sanctioned by the UK.

The UK Government said that SMP is a “Russian Government affiliated entity” and that Rotenberg has “close personal ties” to Vladimir Putin.

Forbes reported that his personal fortune is 1.2 billion dollars (£890 million) and that he has so far evaded US sanctions because he has Finnish citizenship.

Igor Rotenberg

The son of Arkady, Igor has “close familial ties” to the Russian president, according to the UK Government.

He has been on the US sanctions list since 2018, and has a net worth of 1.1 billion dollars (£810 million), according to Forbes.

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