Russia's ultrawealthy oligarchs have lost $32 billion so far this year – and looming sanctions over the deepening conflict in Ukraine are poised to wipe out even more of their fortunes.
President Biden on Tuesday afternoon announced a raft of heavy financial sanctions against Russian banks and oligarchs, accusing Moscow of flagrantly violating international law in what he called the "beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine." He pledged to impose more sanctions if Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to escalate the conflict and committed to sending an unspecified number of U.S. troops to the Baltics to defend NATO countries.
The country's 23 billionaires have already suffered substantial financial losses this year, with a current estimated net worth of $343 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, a listing of the world's wealthiest 500 individuals. That's down from $375 billion at the start of the year.
Gennady Timchenko, an oligarch who derived most of his wealth from a stake in Russian gas producer Novatek, has seen his fortune plunge by nearly one-third this year. The 69-year-old – who has family ties to Putin – is now worth an estimated $16 billion, according to the index.
Timchenko is one of three wealthy Russians, including Boris and Igor Rotenberg, singled out by British sanctions over their links to Putin after the Russian president ordered troops into two rebel-held regions in eastern Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Leonid Mikhelson – who also holds shares of Novatek – has seen his fortune tumble by $6.2 billion this year. Vagit Alekperov, the president of leading Russian oil company Lukoil, saw his wealth decline by $3.5 billion.
Biden joined the European Union in levying harsh sanctions against Moscow: The 27-member bloc of nations also voted to target Russia over its actions in Ukraine, including Germany announcing that it would halt the certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
Russia has amassed an estimated 150,000 troops on three sides of Ukraine, and Biden has repeatedly warned that Putin plans to invade the country. Moscow has denied that it is planning to attack Ukraine.