The United States has blacklisted seven Russian businessmen and eight companies and government enterprises over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the conflict in Ukraine with Moscow labelling the move as “hostile acts”.
The sanctions come a month before US President Barack Obama hands over power to President-elect Donald Trump, who has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and said it would be good if the two countries could get along.
Trump’s nominee for US Secretary of State, Exxon Mobil Corp chief executive officer Rex Tillerson, has opposed US sanctions on Russia, which awarded him a friendship medal in 2013.
In Tuesday’s statement, the US Treasury named seven Russian men, six of whom it said were executives at Bank Rossiya or its affiliates ABR Management and Sobinbank. Bank Rossiya and Sobinbank were sanctioned in 2014, and ABR Management was sanctioned in 2016.
The seventh man, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, has “extensive business dealings” with the Russian defense ministry, Treasury said.
The US actions bar American individuals or companies from dealing with the sanctioned people or companies.
In addition, Treasury named 26 subsidiaries of Russian Agricultural Bank and gas producer Novatek, both of which had already been sanctioned in 2014. US sanctions on those companies are relatively narrow, and prohibit Americans from dealing in certain kinds of debt with them.
Novatek is Russia’s largest non-state gas producer. Its chief executive and major shareholder is Leonid Mikhelson, one of Russia’s richest men.
“Today’s action is in response to Russia’s unlawful occupation of Crimea and continued aggression in Ukraine,” John Smith, acting director of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in a statement.
“These targeted sanctions aim to maintain pressure on Russia by sustaining the costs of its occupation of Crimea and disrupting the activities of those who support the violence and instability in Ukraine.”
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told TASS news agency that the sanctions were hostile acts by the outgoing Obama administration and Russia would expand its sanctions lists against the United States in response.
“We retain the right to choose the time, place and form of our responsive actions in a way that suits us,” Ryabkov said.