The Trump administration on Friday announced wide-ranging sanctions against 38 Russian individuals and companies, part of what senior administration officials billed as a response "to address Russia's pattern of malign activities" around the world.
The sanctions will be imposed on seven Russian oligarchs — including Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate and close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin — and 12 companies they own or control. Seventeen senior Russian government officials, as well as a state-owned Russian weapons trading company and its subsidiary, a Russian bank, also will be targeted.
U.S. officials say the sanctions are "not in response to any single event or issue," but are aimed at countering the "totality of the Russian government's ongoing and increasingly brazen pattern of malign activity around the world."
In a briefing with reporters, the officials cited Russia's occupation of Crimea, the destabilizing of eastern Ukraine, support for the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, Moscow's "ongoing malicious cyber activity," and "Russia's continued attacks to subvert Western democracies."
"Elites are not immune from accountability from the actions of the Russian government," a U.S. official said, adding that Russian oligarchs should use their position of influence to "put an end to this cycle of destabilizing Russian activity around the globe."
The oligarchs, the official said, have "reaped great benefits under the Putin regime and play a key role in its malign agenda."
The sanctions will block all of the oligarchs' assets that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction, and U.S. persons will be "generally prohibited" from dealing with the sanctioned entities, officials said. Any entities owned 50 percent or more by any of the subjects also will be subject to the sanctions.
The move comes after Britain, the United States and other NATO countries expelled more than 150 Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity over the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter, who were attacked with a nerve agent in Britain.
The spy, Sergei Skripal, 66, remains in a British hospital following the March 4 poisoning that Britain has blamed on Russia. The attack on the Skripals set off wide diplomatic recriminations, between the West and Moscow, that were reminiscent of the Cold War standoffs of the 1950s.
Russia has adamantly denied involvement and expelled an equal number of Western envoys. There was no immediate Russian reaction to the latest sanctions.
This story was written by William Gallo