Trump slams major sanctions against Russian oligarchs, government officials

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The Trump administration on Friday announced sweeping sanctions against members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, along with top officials and several businesses, including a state-owned weapons trading company for reasons believed to be unconnected with Russia’s meddling in the United States, U.S. 2016 presidential elections.

However, senior U.S. administration officials said the sanctions are not aimed to punish Moscow for any particular event, but are instead a broader measure aimed at the “totality of the Russian government’s ongoing and increasingly malign activities in the world.”

The Treasury Department, in connection with the State Department, targeted seven Russian oligarchs and 12 companies they own or control. It also imposed sanctions on 17 senior government officials, along with a state-owned weapons trading company and its subsidiary, a Russian bank.

A number of high-profile individuals are cited in Friday’s action, including Putin’s son-in-law, the chairman of state-owned natural-gas monopoly Gazprom, Russia’s largest company. Also on the list: the secretary of the Russian Security Council, and the director of the national guard troops.

The administration stressed on Friday that the sanctions would hold until those individuals wielded their influence to curb the Kremlin’s pervasive activities.

As a result of the sanctions, the Russian assets are blocked, and U.S. entities are barred from dealing with them.

“The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

He cited a number of Russian activities around the world as support for Friday’s U.S. action, including Moscow’s occupation of Crimea and violence in eastern Ukraine, support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s attacks against civilians, and Russia’s “ongoing cyberactivities” and efforts to “interfere in the democratic processes of the United States and its allies.”

“Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government’s destabilizing activities,” Mnuchin said.

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