U.S. hits Russian oligarchs, government officials with fresh sanctions for 'malign activity'

U.S. hits Russian oligarchs, government officials with fresh sanctions for 'malign activity'
From Global News - April 6, 2018

WASHINGTONThe United States hit seven Russian oligarchs and 17 Russian government officials with sanctions on Friday for what it called malign activity around the world, as the Trump administration tried to show that President Donald Trump is taking tough action to stand up to Moscow.

A dozen Russian companies owned by the oligarchs were also targeted, along with a state-owned arms-dealing company and a subsidiary bank, the Treasury Department said. Senior Trump administration officials cast the penalties as part of a concerted and ongoing effort by the U.S. to push back Russian President Vladimir Putins government, emphasizing that since Trump took office last year, the U.S. has punished 189 Russian-related people and entities with sanctions.

Trump has continued to avoid directly criticizing Putin himself, and recently invited the Russian leader to meet with him, possibly at the White House. Still, in recent weeks Trumps administration has rolled out a series of actionsincluding several economic and diplomatic stepsto increase pressure on Putin and those in his circle.

READ MORE: Why inviting Vladimir Putin to the White House right now is unusualeven for Trump

Nobody has been tougher on Russia than I have, Trump said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Rather than punishing Russia for one specific action, the new sanctions are in response to the totality of the Russian governments ongoing and increasingly brazen pattern of bad behaviour, said the officials, who werent authorized to comment by name and briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

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The officials ticked through a list of activities they said had prompted the U.S. to act, including Russias actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, cyber-hacking and attempts to subvert Western democracy.

There was no immediate reaction from Russias government.

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Many of the targets are individuals and businesses associated with Russias energy sector, including those affiliated with state-owned Gazprom. Officials said the goal was to show that those who have benefited financially from Russian President Vladimir Putins position of power are fair game for U.S. punishments, noting that many of those being sanctioned are closely tied to Putin himself.

Targets include:

-Kirill Shamalov, who is reportedly Putins son-in-law, married to his daughter Katerina Tikhonova, although neither Putin nor the Kremlin have acknowledged that she is his daughter.


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