The United States hit seven Russian oligarchs and 17 Russian government officials with sanctions on Friday for what it called "malign activity" around the world, as the Trump administration tried to show that President Donald Trump is taking tough action to stand up to Moscow.
The US authorities have also put on the sanction list a number of Russian officials, including Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, chairman of the Federation Council's worldwide affairs committee Konstantin Kosachyov, and head of the federal communications watchdog Roskomnadzor, Aleksander Zharov, as follows from a news release by the US Department of the Treasury.
Russian state companies under the USA sanctions will receive additional government support, Interfax cited Russia's Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov as saying.
Above all else, Russia's attempts to subvert Western democracy prompted the US sanctions, officials said, in a direct nod to concerns that the USA president has failed to challenge Putin for alleged interference in the 2016 election that brought Trump to power.
"The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites", US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement on April 6.
Under the law, the U.S. Treasury Department released a public list of 210 people, including 96 wealthy Russian businessmen close to Putin's government and network, who could be subject to future sanctions. Still, in recent weeks Trump's administration has rolled out a series of actions - including several economic and diplomatic steps - to increase pressure on Putin and those in his circle.
There was no formal reaction from the Kremlin.
Ty Cobb, a White House lawyer handling the Russian Federation probe, and Jay Sekulow, President Trump's personal attorney, declined to comment.
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"This is an example of uncontrolled anti-Russian hysteria led by the US and successfully exported to the European continent", Slutsky was quoted as saying by the Russian newswire Tass.
Washington's move against the Russian business houses and individuals would mean that their assets will be frozen in the USA, while Americans will be blocked from doing business with them. But the administration said it would give guidance to Americans who may now have business with them about how to wind down that business and avoid running afoul of the sanctions.
Campaigners against Kremlin corruption welcomed the U.S. move. In January, lists of Russian officials and oligarchs were published by the State Department and Treasury.
The list also includes Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire with alleged ties to Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort who is facing money laundering charges, and banker Sergei Gorkov, who was dispatched by Russia in December 2016 to meet Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner at Trump Tower.
Putin's government was blamed for the poisoning of a former Russian double agent living in close US ally Britain last month, and the United States and several European states announced plans to expel more than 100 Russian diplomats in response.
The Trump administration is preparing to impose new sanctions on powerful Russian business and political figures under a law passed past year in response to alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Catherine Lucey in Washington and Vladimir Isachenkov and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed.