U.S. announces more sanctions against Russia over Ukraine
WASHINGTON — The United States on Monday imposed additional sanctions against Russian government officials and companies deemed close to President Vladimir Putin, accusing Moscow of failing to live up to its agreement to defuse the crisis in Ukraine.
The Obama administration ordered travel bans and asset freezes for seven Russian officials, including two said to be in Putin’s inner circle, and froze assets for 17 companies. Thirteen Russian companies will also face additional restrictions as the government will cut off the export or re-export of U.S.-made products to them.
Additionally, the State and Commerce departments announced a new policy to deny export license applications for high-technology items that could contribute to Russia’s military capabilities. The two departments will revoke existing export licenses along those lines, a White House statement read. The European Union plans to follow with sanctions on 15 Russians, officials said. Among those targeted Monday was Igor I. Sechin, president of the state-owned Rosneft oil company and a longtime Putin adviser. Although administration officials said over the weekend that they also expected Alexei B. Miller, the head of the energy giant Gazprom, to possibly be targeted, Obama ultimately chose a list that did not include him.
Others who face sanctions include Dmitry N. Kozak, a deputy prime minister; Vyacheslav V. Volodin, a deputy chief of staff to Putin; and Alexei Pushkov, the chairman of the international affairs committee of the State Duma, the lower house of Parliament.
The companies targeted included several banks, including Sobinbank, and energy companies like the Stroytransgaz Group and various related entities. In imposing sanctions on Sechin, the administration has targeted a top partner of Exxon Mobil, which has multiple joint ventures with Rosneft. It is not known if Sechin has any U.S. assets to freeze, but he will no longer be permitted into the country to consult with his Exxon Mobil partners. Exxon Mobil lawyers have been studying the possible ramifications in anticipation, but a company spokesman said Monday that it had no comment.
The actions came shortly after President Barack Obama, traveling in Asia, declared that Russia was continuing to bully and threaten Ukraine and would pay a price. The fact that the announcement was made on the last stop of his weeklong Asia trip underscored the sense of urgency about fears that Russia was destabilizing eastern Ukraine.