Biden's Myanmar Sanctions Include Redirecting Over $40 Million in U.S. Aid

President Joe Biden announced sanctions against Myanmar on Thursday, which included redirecting over $40 million in U.S. aid away from the country's government.

In a press release, the White House wrote that "As part of today's actions, USAID [U.S. Agency for International Development] will redirect $42.4 million of assistance away from work that benefits the Government of Burma, including support for reforming economic policy, to programs that support and strengthen civil society and the private sector."

The statement also noted that the USAID will support the people of Myanmar, also known as Burma "with approximately $69 million in bilateral programs that provide direct benefits to sustain and improve the health of the people of Burma, including efforts to maintain democratic space, foster food security, support independent media, and promote peace and reconciliation in conflict-affected regions."

The announcement from Biden comes shortly after the coup in Myanmar, when the military overthrew the government and declared a year-long state of emergency, citing a failure to act on unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud in the recent election. The coup began on February 1 after the country's National League for Democracy (NLD) candidate Aung San Suu Kyi won the election by a landslide.

The military in Myanmar demanded a recount of votes following the results of the election but the country's election commission reported no evidence to support claims of voter fraud.

President Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden holds a meeting with US Senators about infrastructure improvements in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, February 11, 2021. Saul Loeb/Getty

The country's power has since been handed to commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing, while Suu Kyi and many other NLD leaders have been detained or placed on house arrest.

Last week, the U.S. Department of State declared the military takeover in Myanmar a coup d'état, requiring the U.S. to end its foreign relation with the country.

In addition to redirecting over $40 million in aid to Myanmar, the White House announced several other sanctions levied against the country in response to the coup.

One of the sanctions included designating 10 individuals and three entities for their connection with the military takeover and immediate action to limit exports of goods to the military in Myanmar.

"Among these individuals are six members of the National Defense and Security Council, including Commander-in-Chief of the Burmese military forces Min Aung Hlaing and Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Burmese military forces Soe Win, as well as four members of the State Administration Council. Under the new Executive order signed by President Biden, Treasury can also target the spouses and adult children of these individuals," the White House wrote in a statement.

"Three entities, including Myanmar Ruby Enterprise and Myanmar Imperial Jade Co., LTD. which are wholly owned subsidiaries of a conglomerate owned or controlled by the Burmese military, have also been designated."

While speaking at the Pentagon on Wednesday, Biden announced that "the U.S. government is taking steps to prevent the generals from improperly having access to the $1 billion in Burmese government funds held in the United States, and today I've approved a new executive order enabling us to immediately sanction the military leaders who directed the coup, their business interests as well as close family members."

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.