The United States levied new sanctions Monday on seven Russian government officials, as well as 17 companies with links to Vladimir Putin’s close associates, as the Obama administration seeks to pressure the Russian leader to deescalate the crisis in Ukraine.
The U.S. sanctions were implemented in coordination with the European Union, which moved to slap visa bans and asset freezes on 15 individuals alleged to be involved with stoking instability in eastern Ukraine.
The new penalties were a response to what the West says is Russia’s failure to live up to commitments it agreed to under an international accord aimed at ending the dispute. The White House says Russia’s involvement in the recent violence in eastern Ukraine is indisputable and warned that the U.S. and its partners were prepared to impose deeper penalties if Russia’s provocations continue.
President Barack Obama announced the U.S. sanctions while traveling in the Philippines, the last stop on a weeklong trip to Asia. He said that while his goal was not to target Putin personally, he was seeking to “change his calculus with respect to how the current actions that he’s engaging in could have an adverse impact on the Russian economy over the long haul.”
Among the targets of the new sanctions is Igor Sechin, the president of state oil company Rosneft, who has worked for Putin since the early 1990s. Sechin was seen as the mastermind behind the 2003 legal assault on private oil company Yukos and its founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who at the time was Russia’s richest man. The most lucrative parts of Yukos were taken over by Rosneft, making it Russia’s largest company. Rosneft has a major partnership deal with ExxonMobil.
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