The Cable

U.S. Treasury Hits Russia With More Sanctions Over Ukraine

The new penalties come as Russian troops conduct military drills on the border with Ukraine.

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The U.S. Treasury Department announced a series of new sanctions against Russia Thursday, which will be aimed at targets who have skirted previous penalties against Moscow that were put in place after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in 2014.

Treasury announced the sanctions as Russian troops continue to gather on the border with Ukraine where they are conducting military drills. Putin has already annexed Crimea, and there are fears a broader invasion could occur.

The sanctions also come weeks after Russian hackers allegedly broke into the computers of Democratic Party organizations in the United States and after they breached U.S. state voting databases. In July, WikiLeaks released emails that hurt the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and Russia cyberthieves are thought to be behind that attack as well, marking the first known incident of foreign hackers trying to influence the outcome of a U.S. election.

On Thursday, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported EU sanctions would also remain in place for another six months.

In a statement, John Smith, the acting director of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), said the new penalties were related to Putin’s meddling in Ukraine. “Russia continues to provoke instability in eastern Ukraine despite its Minsk commitments,” he said, referring to the peace agreement intended to halt the war in the Donbass region of Ukraine.

Among those targeted are 37 individuals and entities that have tried to evade U.S. sanctions on Russia. In addition, 17 Ukrainian separatists, including 11 officials working in Crimea, are on the list. Some 18 companies operating in Crimea, including a number of defense and shipbuilding firms, are also subject to the new sanctions.

OFAC has added multiple subsidiaries of Russian gas giant Gazprom to its sanction list. Russian construction companies Mostotrest and SGM-Most, currently building a bridge to Russian-annexed Crimea, are also now included. Russian engineering firm OMZ was sanctioned for being linked to Gazprombank, which has been on the U.S. sanctions list since 2014.

“Treasury stands with our partners in condemning Russia’s violation of international law, and we will continue to sanction those who threaten Ukraine’s peace, security, and sovereignty,” OFAC’s Smith said.

The announcement comes ahead of next week’s G-20 meeting, a gathering of leading rich and developing nations that President Barack Obama and Putin both are slated to attend.

In a statement, the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington praised the U.S. move.

“We are confident that these new sanctions underscore American efforts to maintain additional pressure on [the] Russian Federation for brutal violation of international law by the aggression against Ukraine, illegal occupation of Ukrainian Crimea, and continuing support of pro-Russian [terrorist] forces in [the] Donbass region of Ukraine,” it said.

Photo credit: MAXIM SHIPENKOV/Getty Images

David Francis was a senior reporter for Foreign Policy, where he covered international finance. @davidcfrancis

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