The US Treasury Department on Tuesday announced new sanctions on Russia that target the country’s defense industrial base and enacted a ban on the import of Russian gold.
The gold ban was done in coordination with the UK, Japan, and Canada but is largely a symbolic measure since Russian gold exports to the West have been virtually nonexistent in recent months. Early on in the war in Ukraine, Western nations sanctioned Russia’s largest gold-trading bank and other financial institutions.
According to Reuters, the vast majority of Russia’s gold exports previously went to the UK’s bullion market, but those sales have plummeted. In February, Britain imported 29 tons of gold worth $1.7 billion from Russia. In March, the import of Russian gold in the UK dropped down to just 26 kilograms.
President Biden announced the ban over the weekend and said Russia “rakes in tens of billions of dollars” from the sale of gold. But there are still plenty of buyers for Russian gold, including the country’s central bank, individuals inside Russia who are buying the precious metal as an investment, and Asian countries, most of which haven’t sanctioned Russia.
“[Russia’s] gold exports have already been rerouted since the start of the war, flowing eastwards rather than westwards, reflecting self-sanctioning from Western world gold market participants,” Carsten Menke, an analyst for the Swiss bank Julius Baer, told Reuters.
The other sanctions the Treasury Department announced Tuesday targeted 70 entities and 29 individuals involved in Russia’s defense, industrial, technology, and manufacturing sectors. Included on the list was Rostec, a Russian state-owned defense conglomerate.