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Putin allies targeted in new US sanctions

08 April 2018

However, no interview has been agreed to - and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that talks were continuing between Trump and his lawyers about a possible interview. The action targets Russian oligarchs including Kirill Shamalov, who married Putin's daughter and has amassed a fortune since they tied the knot in February 2013; Oleg Deripaska, a senior Russian official who has been investigated for money laundering; and Suleiman Kerimov, who allegedly brought millions of euros into France in suitcases, according to the Treasury Department. But Leonid Slutsky, who chairs the foreign relations committee in Russia's lower house of parliament, said there was "no sensible reasons or grounds" for the US actions. Assets of those targeted in the United States have been blocked, and all US -based entities are forbidden from doing business with them. The administration officials said Americans who may now have business with them would be given guidance about how to wind down that business and avoid running afoul of the sanctions. "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".

USA officials confirmed that their action against the oligarchs was in part related to Russia's alleged interference in the U.S. vote, but stressed the broader nature of their concerns.

Numerous targets are individuals and businesses associated with Russia's energy sector, including those affiliated with state-owned Gazprom.

The target list includes some who are closely tied to Putin himself, including top-tier officials involved in Kremlin decision-making and heads of the top state-controlled business entities. Both Mr Miller and Mr Kostin are longtime key members of Mr Putin's team.

The oligarchs were not immediately sanctioned then, but the existence of the list - and a more detailed classified annex - created uncertainty over global business dealings with some Russian sectors.

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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.

"As far as I am concerned the only thing I'm surprised at is that this didn't happen earlier", he told the Interfax news agency. "Now, the sanctions cover captains of Russian business who refuse to play to Washington's scenario", the embassy said.

The Trump administration used a variety of legal mechanisms to implement the sanctions, including the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. The law aims to punish Russian Federation for interfering in the U.S. election as well as actions meant to subvert democracy in Europe. The law also authorizes the president to impose sanctions on Iran for destabilizing activity in the Middle East and North Korea for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

"We would like to advise Washington to get rid of illusions that we can be spoken with the language of sanctions", the ministry said. The administration has also expelled dozens of Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian consulates in response to Russian behavior, including the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain that has been blamed on Moscow.

Putin allies targeted in new US sanctions