The daughters of Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin are set to feel the sting of sanctions as the US rolls out a wave of new measures amid fears the despot is squirreling away cash through his family.
President Biden has also targeted Russian banks and elites among a new package of sanctions.
The announcement included the Russian President’s adult daughters, Katerina Tikhonovna and Maria Putina, who are both in their 30s and rarely seen in public.
The US leader said: “Responsible nations have to come together to hold these perpetrators accountable.”
He added: “We will keep raising the economic cost and ratchet up the pain for Putin and further increase Russia’s economic isolation.”
President Biden previously said he believes Putin to be a war criminal and this week called for a trial to hold Moscow accountable.
However, the process for prosecuting war crimes is complex and lengthy – with questions remaining as to how and when such accountability could be levied.
In targeting Putin’s adult daughters, the US hopes to freeze any assets the Russian President may be hiding with them, according to a senior administration official.
Without detailing which of Putin’s assets could be hiding with Maria Putina and Katerina Tikhonova, the official said the practice was common among the Russian elite.
CNBC quoted the senior official saying: “We believe that many of Putin’s assets are hidden with family members, and that’s why we’re targeting them.”
A US Government official told CNN: “We have reason to believe that Putin and many of his cronies and the oligarchs hide their wealth, hide their assets, with family members that have placed their assets and their wealth in the US financial system, but also many other parts of the world.
“That’s why the co-ordination, the co-ordinated efforts to freeze their assets and seize their physical luxury goods – their cars, their yachts, their homes – that’s why it’s so important that we act together.”
Putin is said to be one of the world’s richest men but it has been long suspected that his fortune his stashed among family members and associates.
His £200billion riches come from taking 50 per cent of every rouble made in Russia by the country’s oligarchs.
Putin – who is notoriously private about his family life – has let slip a few details about the lives of his daughters, who he had with ex-wife Lyudmilla Putina.
Putin announced that he had separated from his daughters’ mother, Lyudmilla Putina, after almost 30 years of marriage in a staged interview with a Russian journalist in 2013.
Katerina, 35, and Maria, 36, have never been officially confirmed as Putin’s children and live relatively normal lifestyles.
So secretive is Putin, that Katerina was only publicly named by a Russian media outlet as Vladimir Putin’s younger daughter in 2015.
At the time, he refused to confirm or deny she was his daughter at a press conference.
“I have never been specific about the workplaces of my daughters and their line of work, and I’m not going to do so now. For many reasons, including security considerations,” he said.
But he confirmed that his daughters were living in Moscow where they are “making the first steps in their careers, and doing well.”
“They are not involved in business or politics,” he added, revealing that they were both fluent in three European languages.
“I’m a proud father,” he said. “My daughters have never been star-struck children. They never craved the limelight.”
They are rarely photographed and avoid public events, in favour of jobs in business and medicine.
In 2020, Putin told Russian media how the country’s coronavirus vaccine had been tested on one of his daughters – but did not reveal who.
He disclosed that he is a grandfather five years ago in an interview with Oliver Stone, the Hollywood director.
“Are you a grandfather yet?” Stone asked Putin during an interview. “Yes,” replied Mr Putin.
“Are you a good grandfather, do you play with them in the garden?” Stone then probes. “Very seldom, unfortunately,” Mr Putin replies, with a seemingly sad smile.
Putin did not say how many grandchildren he has, but according to media reports, Maria, 36, is married to Jorrit Joost Faassen, a Dutch businessman, and they have a child together.
Earlier this year it was reported her marriage to the wealthy business had collapsed.
Maria Putina, also known as Maria Vorontsova, followed a career in biomedicine, and became a genetics researcher, with a specialism in dwarfism.
The blonde 36-year-old, who has been dubbed Putin’s “secret daughter” by the press, dropped some surprising clues about herself during an interview with state-owned TV channel Russia 1 in 2019.
In the interview she revealed she revealed she is a co-owner and top executive at Nomeko, a new, $A894 million medical firm focused on cancer research.
Located near St Petersburg, Nomeko is said to be the biggest private investment project in healthcare in the country.
According to the BBC, Maria reportedly has a 20 per cent stake along with four other owners.
The project is designed to hold 20,000 patients and undertake 10,000 operations annually.
Maria, reportedly nicknamed Masha, lives in a luxury penthouse in Moscow, near the US embassy and is believed to be multilingual – speaking French, Dutch, England and Russian.
Investigative journalist Sergey Kaneve said Putin “did a rotten job for his elder daughter” by triggering massive Western sanctions.
He claimed: “She has a big share in the mega-project for the construction of a super modern medical centre near St Petersburg.
“The plans were to attract patients from Europe and rich sheiks from the Persian Gulf countries.
“And now, after the attack on Ukraine, what kind of Europeans and sheiks will come?”
In 2013 Katerina, 35, married Kirill Shamalov, a Russian billionaire who owns a large stake in a gas and petrochemical company, but the pair have now split.
Last week, a group of pro-Ukrainian protesters broke into a multimillion beach-front French villa reportedly belonging to Shamalov, in a bid to turn it into a shelter for refugees.
“I am proud of them,” Mr Putin told Stone regarding his daughters. “They are not into big business or politics. They are into science and education.”
Katerina previously competed in acrobatic rock’n’roll dance competitions and headed up a mathematical research centre at Moscow State University.
In 2013, she published her PhD dissertation studying technology that could help astronauts to keep their balance in changing gravity – possibly linked to her love of dancing.
She was first identified by Reuters in 2015, as an active participant in a sport known as “acrobatic rock’n’roll” – a mixture of gymnastics and dance.
Katerina alleges uses her maternal grandmother’s last name in a bid to remain anonymous.
In 2021, she helped launch a Russian version of the video-sharing app TikTok, which has recently stopped working in the country.
The Yappy app was produced with the support of the Innopraktika foundation run by Katerina.
In another interview with Stone, Mr Putin says he almost refused to stand for president because of what he saw as a risk to his children.
“I didn’t know how long I could do it for because at any moment they could come along and say I was dismissed. And I could think about one thing only: where I would hide my children,” he said.