Increasingly, Washington is using sanctions against individuals as its foreign policy tool of choice, using the US financial system as a hammer or a scalpel to thwart its enemies or allies. Russia has been the target of US sanctions since February’s intervention in Ukraine: Washington has imposed sanctions on more than 1,300 Russians and more than 1,000 Russian entities in recent years. Sanctions prevent designated individuals from doing business with US companies or individuals and often result in substantial penalties.
In an apparent act of diplomatic desperation, or perhaps for the theater of it, Russia sought to respond in kind — and oppose the harsh unilateralism of American economic power. Russia’s stop list is fundamentally an asymmetric response, and it does not count in Moscow’s favor.
Among the Americans targeted by Russian sanctions are celebrities: Ben Stiller, Sean Penn and Morgan Freeman, all of whom have drawn Moscow’s ire for their expressions of support for Ukraine.
The list includes politicians, including President Biden, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
But many of the names included are less familiar and, in some cases, confusing. While some come with descriptions that justify the designation (for example, Freeman is called a “known film actor” by the Russian Foreign Ministry in 2017 for criticizing Russia), the three dozen people on the list are simply described as “American citizens.” .”
“As far as I know … I’m still the only Kremlin-sanctioned astrophysicist,” said Benjamin Schmitt, a project development scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
Some names on the list are misspelled. Some of the people who entered are apparently no longer alive.
Unlike Russian oligarchs known for their travels and deals in the West, US citizens rarely have assets to seize on Russian soil. Indeed, the public is not informed that the assets of the listed persons are frozen in Russia.
Annie Froehlich, a lawyer at the Cooley firm who works on sanctions and export controls (but is not a former employee of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, as Stop List says) said the US sanctions serve a political purpose. it was not clear that the Russian designations for their purposes could do the same.
“I feel like I’m trying to cast a really wide net,” said Froehlich, who said that while he was nervous about making the list, he was happy to have a spot behind Freeman.
Many on the list scoff at his influence.
“It’s usually an honor to be on the sanctions list, so it won’t affect me negatively,” said Francis Fukuyama, a public scientist and senior fellow at Stanford University.
“What an honor,” Michael Carpenter, the US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, tweeted in June. D.C. Councilwoman Mary M. Cheh (D-Witness 3), who called for the street to be named after the slain Russian opposition politician, said she was “honored” to be included.
There was an insult – albeit largely sarcastic. This Is Spinal Tap director Rob Reiner told Deadline earlier this year that he was “heartbroken” to be included.
The list, short of punches aside, serves as a summary of Moscow’s grievances against the United States.
It names not former President Donald Trump or many of his close allies, but politicians from across the political spectrum and their family members, as well as US officials involved in the imposition of sanctions against Russia. Among them: U.S. officials and former soldiers linked to the Guantanamo detention camp and abuses at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison — sanctions imposed by Moscow in 2014 in apparent response to U.S. human rights sanctions at the time.
Others are law enforcement officers, lawyers and judges involved in high-profile cases against Russian citizens. There are also names associated with Chabad, an ultra-Orthodox branch of Judaism labeled a cult by Moscow.
About 30 names on the list are related to alleged abuse of a child adopted from Russia. Moscow banned Americans from adopting Russian children in 2012, naming the law after a child who died of heatstroke in a car in Virginia.
Some of them are serving prison terms, with no hope of immediate release. Most likely, they are not planning to visit Russia anytime soon.
“It was a pretty big surprise to me to be sanctioned because, unlike most of the other people on the list, I have never held a position in the US government,” he said. Research on Russia. decades. “It’s always nice to get attention, Mom,” one of my kids joked.
“Yeah, that’s me,” Des Moines-based entrepreneur Rich Eichaner, who works to support LGBTQ rights around the world, said on the list. “LGBTQ activists scare Russians too much.”
Some do not know why they are facing Russian sanctions. “I can’t think of any explanation that makes sense at this point in my life,” Iowa attorney Leon Spies told local politics blog Bleeding Heartland in May. “I was anti-communist as a kid when nuclear annihilation was a daily nightmare, but so was almost everyone else.”
Fukuyama is among the most famous scientists on the list. The political scientist, who became famous for his “end of history” theory after the collapse of the Soviet Union, discovered that he was also logged in via Twitter. He believes he was included because of his work with the Stanford Sanctions Group, which was led by the Obama administration’s ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, and included Stoner.
Like Fukuyama, many see their list as a minor inconvenience, if not an honorable sacrifice.
Rutgers University political science professor Alexander Motil said: “I have been a sharp critic of Putin and his regime since 1999. “Then it’s time for the Russians to recognize my work!”
Genocide scholar Kristina Huk, who is among those subject to Russian sanctions, said that it is Ukrainians who see the real consequences of defying Russia.
“The consequences for me of not talking about the genocide and using my technical knowledge to advise decision-makers would be worse than anything the Kremlin could do,” Hook said, noting that he was among those who shared the controversy. Russia’s actions in Ukraine meet the scientific and legal definitions of genocide.
But others have more mixed feelings. Some journalists are on the list, including The New Yorker’s Susan Glasser, The Post’s David Ignatius, and BellingCat’s Arik Toller. “Some Americans may find the permanent ban on Russia a luxury, but I’m not one of them,” Ignatius wrote last year. “I have visited the country half a dozen times since the early 1980s and have enjoyed every visit.”
“It’s a country that fascinates me and is at the center of my entire professional life,” Stoner said. But “this will not prevent me from writing and saying what I want about Russia, as always.”