U.S. sanctions target Putin's allies

U.S. President Donald Trump | Chip Somodevilla  Getty Images

U.S. President Donald Trump | Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

"Now, the sanctions cover captains of Russian business who refuse to play to Washington's scenario", the embassy said.

Three officials said Thursday that the Treasury Department would implement the sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, known as CAATSA, which was overwhelmingly passed by Congress in 2017 and signed into law by President Donald Trump despite some objections.

On the list there are also the director of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies Mikhail Fradkov, Tula Region's Governor, Aleksei Dyumin, presidential aide Yevgeny Shkolov, presidential representative in the Southern Federal District Vladimir Ustinov, chief of the Interior Ministry's department for resistance to extremism Timur Valiulin, Bank of Russia deputy governor, Aleksander Torshin, Russian Guard chief Viktor Zolotov, State Duma Speaker Vladislav Reznik, and chief of the presidential office for socio-economic cooperation with the CIS countries, the republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia Oleg Govorun.

Russia's foreign ministry promised a "tough response" and said the United States had joined the "enemies of the market economy and honest and free competition" as they "use administrative methods to eliminate competitors" such as Rosoboronexport.

The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on 15 of the largest Russian businesses, as well as 24 Russian officials and individual business leaders.

The United States has imposed sanctions against Russian businessmen, companies and government officials, striking at associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin in one of Washington's most aggressive moves to punish Moscow for activities including alleged meddling in the 2016 USA election.

The Russian government engages in a range of malign activity around the globe, including continuing to occupy Crimea and instigate violence in eastern Ukraine, supplying the Assad regime with material and weaponry as they bomb their own civilians, attempting to subvert Western democracies, and malicious cyber activities.

Yet even as it rolled out the new penalties, Mr Trump's administration left open the possibility of "a good relationship with Russia" in the future.

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The measures were taken under a United States law passed to punish Russian Federation for its alleged bid to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, engage in cyber-warfare and intervene in Ukraine and Syria.

But Friday's announcement also came as Washington and its allies face a new diplomatic crisis with the Kremlin over the poisoning of Skripal, a former Russian double agent, and his daughter on British soil.

Earlier, a United States official told Bloomberg that between six and 10 "oligarchs" would be targeted as part of the United States retaliation for "Russian meddling" in the 2016 presidential election. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the United States was "striking at ordinary Americans" by jeopardising "thousands of jobs".

The president had long disputed the idea that Russia's alleged cyber-espionage and propaganda efforts sped him to victory in the election, seeking better relations with Putin.

The list also includes Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire with alleged ties to Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort who is facing money laundering charges, and banker Sergei Gorkov, who was dispatched by Russia in December 2016 to meet Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner at Trump Tower.

"Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government's destabilising activities".

"The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

Putin's government dismissed the sanctions as "absurdity", arguing that the U.S. was punishing companies that have longstanding business ties to the U.S. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the U.S. was "striking at ordinary Americans" by jeopardizing "thousands of jobs".

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