World News

    Russia Denounces New US Sanctions

    A senior Russian diplomat has expressed "disgust" at new U.S. sanctions against his country for its ongoing involvement in neighboring Ukraine and has promised a "painful" response.

    In interviews Monday with Russian media, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rybakov said the latest U.S. measures were based on "completely distorted" ideas of what is happening in Ukraine and vowed that Moscow's response would be felt "painfully" in Washington.

    The U.S. Treasury Department on Monday published a list of seven individuals and 17 companies targeted for sanctions, which include a freeze on assets held in the United States and a ban on U.S. travel.

    The list of individuals includes Oleg Blavatsev, Russian President Vladimir Putin's envoy to Crimea; Se rgei Chemezov, the head of state-owned high-tech company Rostec; Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak; Yevgeny Murov, the head of Russia's Federal Protective Service (analogous to the U.S. Secret Service); Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the State Duma's Committee on International Affairs; and Vyacheslav Volodin, the Kremlin administration's first deputy chief of staff.

    The list also includes Igor Sechin, a former deputy prime minister who is currently CEO of state-owned Rosneft, Russia's largest oil producer. According the Treasury Department, Sechin has shown, in its words, "utter loyalty to Vladimir Putin."

    However, Rosneft itself was not among the 17 companies targeted for sanctions.

    Sechin said Monday that he viewed the sanctions as "a high assessment of the effectiveness of our work" and promised they will not affect Rosneft's cooperation with its shareholders and partners,"including American" interests.



    Earlier Monday, the oil giant announced that it has approved joint projects with U.S. oil major ExxonMobil to develop hydrocarbon reserves in the Arctic. Rosneft also has close ties to Britain's BP, which holds a stake of just under 20 percent in the Russian company.

    BP said in a statement Monday that it remains "committed" to its investment in Rosneft.

    The other companies on the sanctions list are owned or controlled by long-time close associates of Mr. Putin, including Gennady Timchenko, Arkady and Boris Rotenberg and Yuri Kovalchuk, who were targeted in previous rounds of U.S. sanctions.

    Notably absent from the sanctions list is Gazprom, Russia's giant natural gas monopoly, and its CEO, Alexei Miller. A number of observers had predicted Gazprom and its head would be targeted.

    Earlier Monday, President Barack Obama said the new sanctions would build on those already in place.



    "The goal here is not to go after Mr. Putin personally. The goal is to change his calculus with respect to how the current actions that he is engaging in in Ukraine could have an adverse affect on the Russian economy over the long-haul, and to encourage him to actually walk the walk and not just talk the talk when it comes to diplomatically resolving the crisis in Ukraine."



    Mr. Obama said Ukraine has abided by an international agreement reached in Geneva earlier this month that set out concrete steps to resolve the crisis. He told reporters during a trip to the Philippines that Russia has not taken comparable actions.



    "There is a path here to resolve this, but Russia has not yet chosen to move forward, and these sanctions represent the next stage in a calibrated effort to change Russia's behavior."



    The president said if Russia shows further aggression against Ukraine, then the United States could take additional steps, including broader sanctions against sectors such as banking or the defense industry.

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