United States slaps new sanctions on Russian oligarchs, government officials

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On Friday, the United States slapped a number of sanctions on 38 Russian individuals and entities, including Russia's state arms exporter Rosoboronexport as well as senior Russian government officials and businessmen.

The punitive actions are the latest escalating step by the United States to punish Putin's inner circle for interfering in the 2016 election and other ongoing aggressions across the globe in Crimea, Ukraine and Syria.

The US has imposed sanctions on seven Russian oligarchs and 17 senior government officials, accusing them of "malign activity around the globe".

Those hit include metals magnate Oleg Deripaska, described as operating for the Russian government, as well as Alexei Miller, director of state-owned energy giant Gazprom. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the United States was "striking at ordinary Americans" by jeopardising "thousands of jobs".

US intelligence agencies say Russian Federation used hacking and propaganda in an effort eventually aimed at favouring Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton. Assets of those targeted in the United States have been blocked, and all US -based entities are forbidden from doing business with them.

In another development this week, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said that "work for delivery of Russian S-400 missile defense systems [to Turkey] in 2019 has been finalized", according to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News. The lists, required under a law passed previous year, were informally seen as lists of potential future sanctions targets, even though the public version of the oligarchs list was merely a reprint of Forbes' list of billionaires in Russian Federation.

"The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs", he added.

Among the companies targeted by the U.S. include GAZ Group, Russia's leading manufacturer of commercial vehicles owned by Deripaska, and Russian Machines and Renova Group, which is comprised of investment funds and management companies operating in the energy sector in Russia.

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"The requisitioning of private property and other people's money is known as theft", the ministry added.

The administration has also expelled dozens of Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian consulates in response to Russian behaviour, including the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain that has been blamed on Moscow.

"We would like to advise Washington to get rid of illusions that we can be spoken with the language of sanctions", the ministry said.

In January the US Treasury published the controversial Kremlin List, which was shrugged off by the market and widely criticized as "one size fits all" document copy-pasted from the rankings of Russia's richest published by Forbes magazine.

The seizure of Russian diplomatic facilities in the U.S. has demonstrated that "the right to private property, once sacred for Americans, has become an empty phrase", the ministry said.

The politicians noted in the joint statement that Russia's government has authorized an attack on the British territory, which is a violation of the worldwide law.

Former acting Central Intelligence Agency director John McLaughlin told NBC earlier this week that sanctions "on Putin's inner circle, the dozen or so wealthy oligarchs who park money and real estate in the West" would be a more effective action than the expulsion of diplomats.

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