The United Kingdom has targeted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, including his rumored girlfriend, retired Olympic rhythmic gymnast Alina Kabaeva, in a new tranche of sanctions announced Friday.
Putin’s cousins, ex-wife and other close relatives are also among those newly being sanctioned in response to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
The British government noted in a press release that Kabaeva is alleged to “have a close personal relationship with Putin.” It also cited her previously serving as a deputy in the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, for Putin’s United Russia party.
According to The Wall Street Journal, U.S. officials believe that Kabaeva is the mother of at least three of Putin’s children.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement, “We are exposing and targeting the shady network propping up Putin’s luxury lifestyle and tightening the vice on his inner circle. We will keep going with sanctions on all those aiding and abetting Putin’s aggression until Ukraine prevails.”
According to the press release from the U.K. government, while official records list modest assets for Putin, he “relies on his network of family, childhood friends, and selected elite who have benefited from his rule and in turn support his lifestyle.”
The government added that “his family members form a core contingent of his inner circle — receiving positions of power due to their affiliation to the regime.”
Those sanctioned in addition to Kabaeva include her grandmother, Anna Zatseplina; Lyudmila Ocheretnaya, Putin’s ex-wife; two of Putin’s first cousins, Igor Putin and Roman Putin; Mikhail Shelomov, a Russian business owner and Putin’s first cousin once removed; and Mikhail Putin, another one of the Russian president’s relatives.
The U.K. has also sanctioned Putin’s “confidants and loyal supporters,” who it says are “routinely placed” in strategic positions within the Russian state.
The British government said Friday it has sanctioned more than 1,000 individuals and 100 entities, including Russian oligarchs and businessmen with a net global worth of more than 117 billion pounds, the equivalent of more than $140 billion.
While the Biden administration has yet to sanction Kabaeva, it announced a wave of sanctions targeting Russia’s two largest banks, Putin’s daughters and the wife and daughter of Russia’s top diplomat. The administration also blacklisted members of Russia’s Security Council in April.