US Expands Sanctions Against Russia, Ukraine Separatists

The United States Treasury Department announced additional sanctions Tuesday against Russia, pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, and individuals and companies associated with them.

The move comes on the heels of a White House meeting Tuesday between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

The increased sanctions is in response to continued Russian support for pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. Prior to his meeting with Trump, Poroshenko stressed the importance of taking such action before the U.S. president’s meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

The sanctions will target 38 individuals and business entities linked to the continuing conflict in eastern Ukraine. The penalties will remain in place until Russia meets the terms of 2014 and 2015 peace accords reached in Minsk, Belarus.

“These designations will maintain pressure on Russia to work toward a diplomatic process that guarantees Ukrainian sovereignty,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement. “There should be no sanctions relief until Russia meets its obligations under the Minsk agreement.”

Among those sanctioned are two high-level Russian officials, Deputy Economy Minister Sergey Nazarov and Russian MP Alexander Babakov.

Nazarov, who oversees Russia’s humanitarian aid programs in separatist-controlled areas of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions, has been designated for materially assisting and sponsoring the separatist campaigns and advocating international investment in Crimea.

Babakov, Putin’s special liaison for expatriates, voted in favor of annexing Crimea in 2014 on the grounds that Moscow is obligated to represent ethnic Russians living abroad.

Russia’s largest arms producer, Kalashnikov Concern, has been designated along with a number of small Russian-owned banks for operating in Crimea, along with Oboronlogistyka, a Russian Defense Ministry subsidiary in charge of procurement and provisioning for the annexed Black Sea peninsula.

KPSK, one of Russia’s top corporate property underwriters, has been designated for insuring the Kerch Bridge project, which, if completed, would link Crimea and mainland Russia.

The action follows moves by lawmakers last week to pass a bill to limit the White House’s authority to lift sanctions against Russia without congressional approval. The bill passed with 98 votes in the Senate and now moves on to the House of Representatives.

The Trump administration had pushed back against the Senate bill.

“I would urge Congress to ensure any legislation allows the president to have the flexibility to adjust sanctions,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told lawmakers last week.

Ukrainian President Poroshenko said he received strong assurances of U.S. support for his country from Trump during Tuesday’s meeting.

Trump is expected to meet with Putin at the upcoming Group of 20 (G-20) summit slated for July 7-8 in Hamburg, Germany, under the theme “Shaping an Interconnected World.”

Oksana Bedratenko and Oleksiy Kuzmenko of VOA’s Ukrainian Service contributed to this article.

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