Friday, 27 April, 2018

US slaps sanctions on Putin's allies

US slaps sanctions on Putin's allies US slaps sanctions on Putin's allies
Jodi Jackson | 08 April, 2018, 02:55

Preparations for a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be affected by sweeping U.S. sanctions imposed yesterday on Russian government officials and businessmen, the White House said, Reuters reported.

The measures announced by the Treasury Department were also aimed at 17 senior Russian government officials.

Russia's state arms exporter, a key tool in Putin's efforts to support the modernization of his own military by selling advanced hardware around the world, was also added to the sanctions list.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that no pressure could make Russian change its course and that the sanctions will only unite Russian society.

Nevertheless, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the new sanctions did not mean that Trump's offer to sit down with Putin in Washington is off the table. The sanctions will freeze any assets that those targeted have in USA jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them.

"Having obtained zero results from the 50 previous rounds of sanctions, Washington continues to employ fear with the refusal to issue American visas, the threatening of Russian businesses with the freezing of companies' assets and property, while forgetting that the requisitioning of private property and other people's money is known as theft", the Ministry added.

Campaigners against Kremlin corruption welcomed the United States move.

The measures were taken under a USA law passed to punish Russian Federation for its alleged bid to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, engage in cyber-warfare and intervene in Ukraine and Syria.

The ongoing diplomatic tussle between Russian Federation and U.S., which was triggered after alleged poisoning of a former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughters in United Kingdom by nerve gas agent, is being expanded on each passing day.

But Congress persisted, backed by evidence from USA intelligence agencies, and in March the administration finally imposed sanctions on 19 Russian entities for "malicious cyber attacks".

Former Solicitor General Kenneth Starr said Saturday on "Fox & Friends" that the Mueller probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian Federation doesn't seem to be actually investigating that particular allegation.

In January, Trump said that he was "looking forward" to an interview with Mueller, insisting there was no collusion between his campaign and Russian Federation.

Trump administration officials cast it as part of a concerted, ongoing effort to push back on Mr Putin, emphasising that since Mr Trump took office a year ago, the USA has punished 189 Russia-related people and entities with sanctions.

"The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

"It looks increasingly like [Mueller] is investigating the Russian invasion of the United States political system and not collusion", Starr said. In tandem with European allies, the Trump administration expelled dozens of Russian diplomats and shut down the Russian consulate in Seattle.

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