US sanctions Russian football club


The United States has slapped sanctions on Russia’s CSKA football club as part of a raft of retaliatory measures targeting dozens of entities and individuals in the country after Moscow recognized a pair of breakaway republics in Ukraine as sovereign states.

The US Treasury Department announced the move on Tuesday, alongside penalties designed to hit “Russia’s entire financial system,” noting that the CSKA sports firm is a subsidiary of the newly sanctioned Vnesheconombank (VEB), a state-run development and investment agency.

“Today, we are implementing full blocking sanctions on two large Russian financial institutions,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters during a joint press conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. He added that the Promsvyazbank Public Joint Stock Company (PSB) would also be targeted, while claiming both firms “have close links to the Kremlin and the Russian military.”

CSKA originally stood for the “Army Central Sports Club.” Founded in 1911 and part of the broader CSKA sporting organization, the football club was once the official team of the Soviet Army, but has since come under private ownership. In 2020, the VEB bought a majority stake of the club, taking a more than 77% share in the outfit.

The new US penalties targeted around 50 Russian companies, subsidiaries, shipping vessels and individuals, including “members of the Russian elite and their family members.” They come as part of President Joe Biden’s first tranche of swift and severe” sanctions in response to Moscow’s decision to recognize the Donetsk and Lugansk republics in eastern Ukraine, which declared secession from the Kiev government following the country’s 2014 EuroMaidan coup. 

The sanctions follow another round of measures imposed on Monday by executive order, in which the White House barred Americans from most financial activity in the newly recognized republics, including investments, as well as imports and exports of “any goods, services, or technology.”