U.S. President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews for travel to Superior, Wisconsin, in Maryland, U.S. March 2, 2022.
U.S. President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews for travel to Superior, Wisconsin, in Maryland, U.S. March 2, 2022. Reuters / EVELYN HOCKSTEIN

The United States on Thursday imposed fresh sanctions against Russian oligarchs, including on those active in the oil and real estate sectors, as Washington takes aim at those close to Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

The United States imposed full blocking sanctions on eight oligarchs and officials, as well as some of their companies, the White House said, targeting Russia's super-rich who have amassed fortunes and political influence through their close ties to Putin.

"We want him (Putin) to feel the squeeze, we want the people around him to feel the squeeze," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

Washington has so far imposed several rounds of sanctions, including against Putin and the central bank, after Russia's forces invaded Ukraine in the biggest assault on a European state since World War Two. Moscow calls the assault a "special operation."

Washington imposed sanctions on Alisher Usmanov, a Russian tycoon and founder of Russian mining company Metalloinvest, whom the White House described as a "one of Russia's wealthiest individuals and a close ally of Putin."

The move blocks his property from use in the United States and by U.S. persons, including his luxury yacht that the White House said was seized by Germany, and his private jet.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, whom the White House accused of being "a top purveyor of Putin's propaganda," was also targeted.

Nikolay Tokarev, the chief executive of energy giant Transneft, was also designated along with his wife, daughter and his two luxury real estate companies. Billionaires Boris and Arkady Rotenberg and several family members were also hit with sanctions.

The United States will also impose visa restrictions on 19 Russian oligarchs, their family members and associates, the White House said in a statement, and will also issue sanctions against Russian entities and individuals who enable the country's spread of disinformation.

The action helps bring the United States in line with measures the European Union took earlier this week.

The EU on Monday imposed sanctions on 26 prominent people over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, including oligarchs and business people active in the oil, banking and finance sectors. The EU measures included Peskov and Usmanov.

Thursday's measures come after the U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday launched a task force known as "KleptoCapture" aimed at straining the finances of Russia's oligarchs.

Washington has repeatedly warned that it is prepared to take further measures to hold Moscow to account over its invasion of Ukraine.

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, U.S. President Joe Biden said the United States would work to seize the yachts, luxury apartments and private jets of wealthy Russians with ties to Putin.

"We are coming for your ill-begotten gains," Biden said.

The United States and its allies last week announced they would launch a task force to identify and freeze the assets of sanctioned Russian companies and oligarchs.