US imposes sanctions on Putin's oligarch allies

US imposes sanctions on Putin's oligarch allies

Friday witnessed US Treasury Department announcing new sanctions against seven Russian oligarchs and several government officials and business entities.

Nevertheless, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the new sanctions did not mean that Trump's offer to sit down with Putin in Washington is off the table. "As the president has said, he wants to have a good relationship with Russian Federation", a White House statement said.

Above all else, Russia's attempts to subvert Western democracy prompted the United States sanctions, officials said, in a direct nod to concerns that the USA president has failed to challenge Mr Putin for alleged interference in the 2016 election that brought Mr Trump to power.

President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is asking a judge to exclude evidence that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators obtained from one of his storage lockers in Virginia last May, claiming they obtained the evidence unlawfully.

The Russian Foreign Ministry promised a "tough response", adding that the U.S. was jeopardising "thousands of jobs" for its own citizens by punishing companies with longstanding business ties in the country.

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Those being punished are not necessarily involved in the Russian actions in Syria, Ukraine or elsewhere that have drawn consternation from the West.

Russia's state arms exporter, a key tool in Putin's efforts to support the modernization of his own military by selling advanced hardware around the world, was also added to the sanctions list. Many other targets were associated with Russia's energy sector. Any assets they hold in areas under U.S. jurisdiction could now be frozen. "Now, the sanctions cover captains of Russian business who refuse to play to Washington's scenario", the embassy said.

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.

Campaigners against Kremlin corruption welcomed the USA move. The lists, required under a law passed a year ago, were informally seen as lists of potential future sanctions targets, even though the public version of the oligarchs list was merely a reprint of Forbes' list of billionaires in Russian Federation. In tandem with European allies, the Trump administration expelled dozens of Russian diplomats and shut down the Russian consulate in Seattle.

"Washington has delivered yet another blow on the Russian-US relations".

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