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US reaffirms Russia sanctions with new financial restrictions

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WASHINGTON: The Obama administration reaffirmed its commitment to maintaining sanctions on Russia over Crimea with new financial restrictions announced Tuesday on Russian businessmen and companies.

While the sanctions are not unusual, the timing is, as Donald Trump’s US election victory has created doubts about the future of US policy towards Russia and for a united approach to sanctions given his apparently softer line on President Vladimir Putin.

The US Treasury Department announced financial sanctions on seven Russian bankers and businessmen, and eight businesses with operations in Ukraine.

The actions show the US “remains steadfast in our commitment to maintain sanctions until Russia fully implements its commitments under the Minsk agreements,” Treasury said in a statement, referring to the 2014 pact to end the war in Crimea.

“This action underscores the US government’s opposition to Russia’s occupation of Crimea and our firm refusal to recognize its attempted annexation of the peninsula.”

The European Union on Monday extended sanctions against Russia for six months.

The latest sanctions by Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) blocks any property of investment by the designated individuals and companies in the United States, and prohibits any transactions with them by Americans individuals or companies.

“These targeted sanctions aim to maintain pressure on Russia by sustaining the costs of its occupation of Crimea and disrupting the activities of those who support the violence and instability in Ukraine,” acting OFAC Director John E. Smith said in the statement.

The sanctions target Russian construction and shipping companies and the Crimean port operator, as well as two ships. It also impacts six executives of Bank Rossiya and Sobinbank, and one with business ties to Russia’s Defense Ministry.

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