The Trump administration targets Putin's inner circle with new Russia sanctions

  • The US on Friday slapped new sanctions on seven Russian oligarchs, 17 senior Russian government officials, and more than a dozen Russian entities.
  • The Treasury Department cited Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, aid to the Syrian government, and “malicious” cyber activities around the globe as reasons for imposing new sanctions.
  • Last month, the US announced sanctions against 19 Russian nationals and five entities in retaliation for Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election.

The US Treasury slapped new sanctions on seven Russian oligarchs and 17 senior Russian government officials on Friday, citing Russia’s annexation of Crime and aggression toward Ukraine, its support of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, and its “malicious” cyber activities around the globe.

“Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government’s destabilizing activities,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement.

The latest sanctions target some of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies, including his son-in-law Kirill Shamalov, the aluminium magnate Oleg Deripaska, the Federation Council member and portfolio investor Suleiman Kerimov, the banker and politician Alexander Torshin, and the energy tycoon Viktor Vekselberg.

The new sanctions also target 12 companies owned by the oligarchs, as well as the Russian state-owned weapons company Rosoboronexport, whose ties to the Syrian government stretch back over a decade. The Treasury also sanctioned the Russian Financial Corporation Bank, which is owned by Rosoboronexport.

The 17 senior Russian government officials will have their assets frozen as a result of the sanctions. The Treasury added that non-US persons “could face sanctions for knowingly facilitating significant transactions for or on behalf of the individuals or entities blocked today.”

The Trump administration last month announced sanctions on 19 Russian nationals and five Russian entities, including those charged by the special counsel Robert Mueller’s office with conspiring to interfere in the 2016 US election by launching a social-media influence campaign to sway US voters in favour of Donald Trump.

The US and many of its Western allies have also accused Russia of orchestrating the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the UK in March.

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