“The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement on Friday.
According to the US Treasury Department, the measures target seven businessmen close to President Vladimir Putin, 12 of their companies as well as 17 senior government officials for what it called a range of “malign activity.”
Moscow “engages in a range of malign activity around the globe, including continuing to occupy Crimea and instigate violence in eastern Ukraine, supplying the Assad regime with material and weaponry as they bomb their own civilians, attempting to subvert Western democracies, and malicious cyber activities,” Mnuchin added.
Companies like Gazprom, Burenie and Renova group have also been added to the sanctions list while freezing the US assets of “oligarchs” such as aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska and lawmaker Suleiman Kerimov, whose family controls Russia’s largest gold producer, Polyus.
Friday’s sanctions were authorized by the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, known as CAATSA, which Trump reluctantly signed into law in August.
“The United States is taking these actions in response to the totality of the Russian government’s ongoing and increasingly brazen pattern of malign activity across the world,” one official said. “This included their occupation of Crimea, instigation of violence in eastern Ukraine, support for the Assad regime in Syria… and ongoing malicious cyber-activity,” the senior official added.
The Russian government has been recently blamed for the poisoning of a former Russian double agent living in Britain last month.