US SLAMS RUSSIA WITH NEW PUNISHING SANCTIONS

On Friday, the U.S. and European Union leveled a new round of sanctions aimed at Russia over its role in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. The sanctions targeted Russia’s largest bank and a major defence conglomerate.

These new sanctions further escalate diplomatic tension between the West and Russia. They come at a delicate time — Ukraine’s government and pro-Russian separatist rebels in Ukraine’s eastern regions are a week into a ceasefire that has mostly held despite accusations of violation by both sides.

The latest U.S. sanctions, like the last round, target Russia’s financial, energy, and defence sectors. Among the new targets is Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank of Russia. The sanctions prohibit U.S. citizens or companies from providing new financing to the three major Russian financial institutions, thereby cutting off their access to U.S. capital markets. The sanctions also shorten the
maturity threshold for the debt prohibition from 90 days to 30 days — meaning U.S. persons cannot engage in transactions involving new debt of greater than 30 days’ maturity.

The new measures “will significantly increase the pressure on these institutions by constraining the financing options available to them,” a senior administration official said Friday.

The U.S. has now targeted Russia’s six largest banks in sanctions — Bank of Moscow, Gazprombank OAO, Russian Agricultural Bank, Sberbank, VEB, and VTB Bank.

The sanctions also are aimed at Rostec, a major Russian defence conglomerate. Like the restrictions on transactions with Russian banks, the new sanctions restrict U.S. loans to Rostec to no more than 30 days’ maturity.

And the new measures prohibit U.S. companies from exporting goods, services, or technology to support five Russian energy companies in exploration or production for Russian deepwater, Arctic offshore, or shale projects that have the potential to produce oil. The Russian energy companies hit by the sanctions include Gazprom, Gazprom Neft, Lukoil, Surgutneftegas, and Rosneft.

President Barack Obama said Friday the sanctions
were being imposed in response to Russia’s “actions to further destabilize Ukraine over the last month,” including an incursion of at least 1,000 Russian forces into eastern Ukraine to fight with pro-Russian separatists in eastern regions of the country. The president also said a ceasefire reached last week has not produced “conclusive evidence” Russia has worked to de-escalate the crisis.

“I encourage President Putin to work with Ukraine and other international partners, within the context of the Minsk agreement and without setting unreasonable conditions, to reach a lasting resolution to the conflict,” Obama said in a statement.

“As I said last week, if Russia fully implements its commitments, these sanctions can be rolled back. If, instead, Russia continues its aggressive actions and violations of international law, the costs will continue to rise.”

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.