EU leaders plan to place Vladimir Putin’s daughters on its latest sanction hit-list as the bloc prepares its latest crackdown on Moscow in the wake of alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
Katerina Tikhonova, 35, and Mariya Vorontsova, 36, are on the EU’s latest draft list of targets that includes oligarchs, politicians and those said to be within Putin’s inner circle.
Little is known about the personal lives of Tikhonova, a scientist and former acrobat, and Vorontosva, an endocrinologist, but they are expected to be subject to asset freezes and travel bans across the continent from Wednesday.
Although it is unclear if the pair have holdings outside of Russia, any potential life of luxury they could have led in Europe is now likely to be a distant dream.
It comes as the G7, EU and United States are said to have agreed on a ban on ‘all new investment’ in Russia as part of its latest economic retaliation against Putin.
The new measures will also widen the net of sanctions on Russian banks and state owned businesses and aim to cripple government officials and their family members.
Katerina Tikhonova, 35, (pictured) and Mariya Vorontsova, 36, are on the EU’s latest draft list of targets that includes oligarchs, politicians and those said to be within Putin’s inner circle
Little is known about the personal lives of Tikhonova, a scientist and former acrobat, and Vorontosva, (above) an endocrinologist, but they are expected to be subject to asset freezes and travel bans across the continent from Wednesday
The new measures will also widen the net of sanctions on Russian banks and state owned businesses and aim to cripple government officials and their family members
The latest round of sanctions are understood to have been trigged by allegations of ‘genocide’, atrocities and war crimes against Ukrainian civilians discovered after Russian troops fell back from their position in Bucha, near Kyiv.
Further Russian imports worth an estimated £4.6bn each year, understood to include cement, liquor, vodka and caviar, will also be banned under the new raft of measures.
Other measures proposed by the EU’s executive arm include sanctions on more individuals and four key Russian banks, including the second-largest, VTB.
‘These four banks, which we now totally cut off from the markets, represent 23% of market share in the Russian banking sector,’ EU Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said.
If the proposal is adopted unanimously by all 27 EU countries, the new package of sanctions would also ban Russian vessels and Russian-operated vessels from EU ports, with exceptions for essentials such as agricultural and food products, and humanitarian aid and energy.
Further targeted export bans worth 10 billion euros (£8.3 billion) have been proposed in sectors covering quantum computers, advanced semiconductors, sensitive machinery and transportation equipment.
Von der Leyen said: ‘With this, we will continue to degrade Russia’s technological base and industrial capacity.’
Sources said new economic penalties would ‘impose significant costs on Russia and send it further down the road of economic, financial, and technological isolation’.
Meanwhile, a source told the Financial Times that banning new Western investors from trading in the Russian market would ‘degrade key instruments of Russian state power, impose acute and immediate economic harm on Russia, and hold accountable the Russian kleptocracy that funds and supports Putin’s war’.
The ramping up of punitive economic measures came as members of the UN Security Council were left in stunned silence as President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Russia had ‘committed genocide’ and shared dozens of pictures of charred bodies, dead civilians and mass graves in Bucha, Irpin and Mariupol in recent days.
In Bucha, advancing Ukrainian units discovered hundreds of bodies strewn all over residential roads in the suburban town that was once home to 28,000 people.
‘The massacre in our city of Bucha is unfortunately only one of many examples of what the occupiers have been doing on our land for the past 41 days’, Zelensky added.
One Brussels source explained: ‘We had already concluded that Russia committed war crimes in Ukraine, and the information from Bucha appears to show further evidence of war crimes’.
Sources said new economic penalties would ‘impose significant costs on Russia and send it further down the road of economic, financial, and technological isolation’
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the EU needed to increase the pressure on Putin after what she described as ‘heinous crimes’ carried out around Kyiv, with evidence that Russian troops may have deliberately killed Ukrainian civilians
In another show of support, the European Union’s executive branch proposed a ban on coal imports from Russia, in what would be the first sanctions from the bloc targeting the country’s lucrative energy industry over the war. The coal imports amount to an estimated 4 billion euros (£3.3billion) per year.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the EU needed to increase the pressure on Putin after what she described as ‘heinous crimes’ carried out around Kyiv, with evidence that Russian troops may have deliberately killed Ukrainian civilians.
She added: ‘We all saw the gruesome pictures from Bucha and other areas from which Russian troops have recently left. These atrocities cannot and will not be left unanswered.’
Ms von der Leyen did not mention natural gas, with consensus among the 27 EU member countries on targeting the fuel used to generate electricity and heat homes more difficult to secure.
The EU gets about 40% of its natural gas from Russia, and many EU countries, including Germany – the bloc’s largest economy – are opposed to cutting off gas imports.
So far, Europe had not been willing to target Russian energy over fears that it would plunge the European economy into recession but the recent reports of civilian killings have increased pressure for tougher EU sanctions.
The US and the UK previously announced they were cutting off Russian oil, Poland said it plans to block imports of coal and oil from Russia, while Lithuania said it is no longer using Russian natural gas.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has demanded Brussels’ leaders join this commitment and set out a timetable ahead of Wednesday’s meeting with Nato and G7 members.
Ms Truss explained that Western sanctions were working to reverse Russia’s economy back ‘into the Soviet era’, but is demanding more action from European allies, reports the Telegraph.
She said that the UK had frozen £266.3 billion of Putin’s war chest and made more than 60 per cent of his £461.5 billion of foreign currency reserves unavailable.
It comes as Italy, Spain and Denmark expelled dozens of Russian diplomats, following moves by Germany and France. Hundreds of Russian diplomats have been sent home since the start of the invasion, many accused of being spies.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the expulsions a ‘short-sighted’ measure that would complicate communication and warned they would be met with ‘reciprocal steps’.
How Katerina Tikhonova is widely reported to be Putin’s daughter but neither the president nor the Kremlin will comment about her
She is the boogie-woogie dancing daughter of Vladimir Putin who some say could one day take over from the Russian President.
Mystery has long surrounded Katerina Tikhonova with the Kremlin having attempted to keep her out of the public eye.
The 32-year-old was named as the strongman’s child in 2015 by a senior Russian businessman and then in November by a dance colleague – but both later changed their stories.
Putin and her mother, Lyudmila Putina, divorced in 2013 and Katerina uses a surname inherited from her grandmother.
Mystery has long surrounded Katerina Tikhonova (pictured), the rumoured daughter of Vladimir Putin, with the Kremlin having attempted to keep her out of the public eye
While her identity has been widely assumed, it has never been confirmed by Tikhonova herself, her representatives or the Kremlin, which says it does not comment on the private lives of Putin’s close relatives.
Tikhonova runs publicly-funded projects at Moscow State University and serves as the WRRC’s vice president for expansion and marketing.
She is a major player in acrobatic rock’n’roll, a niche dance discipline she has competed in and helps manage through senior positions at the WRRC and the Russian national federation.
She and Kirill Shamalov wed in a sumptuous ceremony at Igora ski resort near St Petersburg and rode in a traditional sleigh pulled by three white horses.
Tikhonova is a major player in acrobatic rock’n’roll, a niche dance discipline she has competed in and helps manage through senior positions at the WRRC and the Russian national federation
Katerina Tikhonova, 31, is pictured, second from right, at a dancing conference
All guests were sworn to secrecy, and no official announcements were made.
However, reports in Russia suggest the couple have since split with Shamalov linked to a Moscow socialite.
Tikhonova may be best known for her dancing, but there have been claims in Moscow that Putin is gradually grooming her as his eventual successor in 2024.
Reports last year suggested Putin is quietly grooming Katerina – also known as Ekaterina – for possible ‘tsardom’ to takeover.
‘Trying to run a woman through an election campaign in Russia is quite an interesting and modern political experiment,’ wrote Natalia Gevorkyan, a Putin biographer.
Tikhonova (pictured in a dance performance) runs publicly-funded projects at Moscow State University and serves as the WRRC’s vice president for expansion and marketing
‘Putin does not have a (male) heir – at least officially – but he has two daughters, and one of them, Ekaterina, has already entered the public space with several huge and costly projects,’ she wrote for Radio Svoboda website.
‘In 2024, Ekaterina will be 38. In theory, she can take part in the presidential elections and provide a calm time in old age for her father and his closest friends.’
Putin has said previously of his daughters from his marriage to ex-wife Lyudmila: ‘They are taking the first steps in their careers, but are making good progress. They are not involved in business or politics.
‘They have never been “star” children, they have never got pleasure from the spotlight being directed on them. They just live their own lives.
‘They live in Russia … They have never been educated anywhere except Russia.
‘I am proud of them, they continue to study and are working. My daughters speak three European languages fluently.’