USA hits Russian oligarchs, senior officials with new sanctions

Dr Christine Blanshard, medical director of Salisbury District Hospital and Lorna Wilkinson director of nursing speaking to the media today

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On Thursday, the Washington Post, citing some unnamed US officials, reported that The US administration meant to introduce sanctions against a number of Russians included in the so-called "Kremlin report".

The assets of all 24 people from Russian Federation and 15 various organizations that fall under the US sanctions and under US jurisdiction have been blocked, and American entities are banned from dealing with them, according to the US Treasury Department.

"The United States has made yet another erroneous step to destroy the freedom of enterprise and competition, to impair integration processes in the global economy", the embassy said.

Of these, 17 are Russian government officials and seven are "oligarchs" who own or control 12 firms.

The United States has punished dozens of Russian oligarchs and government officials with sanctions that took direct aim at President Vladimir Putin's inner circle, as President Donald Trump's administration tried to show he is not afraid to take tough action against Moscow. "The Russian government.continues to occupy Crimea and instigate violence in eastern Ukraine, supplies the Assad regime with weaponry as they bomb their own civilians, attempts to subvert Western democracies, and conducts malicious cyber activities".

Washington's move against the Russian business houses and individuals would mean that their assets will be frozen in the USA, while Americans will be blocked from doing business with them.

He said that Trump's attorneys are correct in trying to protect the president from a potential "perjury trap", but added that it may be wise for the New Yorker to go ahead with any interview so as not to embroil him in grand jury case over a subpoena.

The latest set of strict measures imposed by the U.S. against Russia "targets the top Russian entrepreneurs that refused to play to Washington's script", the embassy said in a statement. Some Russian lawmakers have already spoken about a possible "asymmetric response" that could target the United States both politically and economically.

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.

Trump begrudgingly signed the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) in August previous year, despite arguing that it undermined his own authority to lead United States foreign policy. "Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government's destabilizing activities".

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

Painter, who left government a year ago, criticized Trump's rhetoric toward Putin - including a congratulatory call last month when Putin won another presidential term in a widely criticized election.

Ties had already plummeted to a post Cold War low over last month's attack on a former Russian double agent living in England. Last month, the USA targeted 19 Russians and five other entities with sanctions in the first use of the law. In tandem with European allies, the Trump administration expelled dozens of Russian diplomats and shut down the Russian consulate in Seattle.

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