US hits Russian officials with fresh sanctions
The US has announced sanctions on seven Russian government officials and 13 Russian and European companies in response to the poisoning of the opposition leader Alexei Navalny, which a US intelligence assessment confirmed to be the work of the FSB.
Senior administration officials described the measures taken, which are also a response to Navalny’s continued imprisonment, as catching up with sanctions imposed on Moscow by the EU in October while the Trump administration had largely turned a blind eye.
The officials said policy towards Russia was now being closely coordinated with European allies, and that more punitive measures would be issued in the coming weeks in response to last year’s Solar Winds cyber-attack, Russian interference in the 2020 election and bounties allegedly offered to Taliban fighters and other extremists for killing US soldiers.
“The tone and substance of our conversation with Russia, and our conversations about Russia, will be very different from what you saw in the previous administration,” one senior official said.
“We are not seeking to escalate, we are not seeking to reset. We are seeking stability and predictability and areas of constructive work with Russia, where it is in our interest to do that.”
The sanctions are being imposed under the 1991 Chemical and Biological Weapons Act, “and other authorities”, and represent an expansion of those already imposed in response to the attack on the former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK in 2018.
Among those blacklisted were Andrei Yarin, the chief of the Kremlin’s domestic policy directorate; Alexander Bortnikov, the director of the Federal Security Service (FSB); and deputy ministers of defense Alexei Krivoruchko and Pavel Popov, among others, according to a statement.
Any property or dealings in the US will be frozen or blocked and foreigners holding transactions with them could also face sanctions.
The commerce department announced a tightening of export controls on items potentially used to make chemical or biological weapons.
Nine Russian, three German and one Swiss company, as well as one government research institute, are being placed on an “entity list” which means US dealings with them would require a license “on presumption of denial”. The names of the companies and the institute were due to be published later on Tuesday.
“As sanctions go, this isn’t going to change any sort of behavior by Putin or force them to all of a sudden release Navalny – I’m highly suspect of that,” said Daniel Tannebaum, a sanctions expert and former compliance officer at the US Treasury’s office of foreign assets control.
But he added: “I’m encouraged by the rhetoric out of the Biden administration that this is the beginning, and not necessarily a reset but the first step to impose sanctions against the Putin regime for a variety of different issues.”
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has started a hunger strike in prison to protest officials’ failure to provide proper treatment for his back and leg pains. In a statement posted Wednesday on Instagram, Navalny complained about prison authorities’ refusal to give him the right medicines and to allow his doctor to visit him behind bars.
A company newly sanctioned by the U.S. over Alexei Navalny’s poisoning attack is tied to the money-laundering network that Natalia Veselnitskaya tried to cover up at the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting, according to financial records obtained by The Daily Beast. Now we know why Vladimir Putin was so desperate to play down the international corruption probes that began when Sergei Magnitsky uncovered a $230 million fraud on the Russian people. For the first time, that dark-money network can be linked to the murderous chemical-weapons program run by Russia’s notorious intelligence services. After exposing the massive theft of state money, Magnitsky ended up dead in a Russian prison cell.
Russia tried to influence the 2020 US presidential election by proliferating “misleading or unsubstantiated allegations” largely against Joe Biden and through allies of Donald Trump, US intelligence officials said on Tuesday. The assessment was contained in a 15-page report published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. It underscored allegations that Trump’s allies played into Moscow’s hands by amplifying claims against Biden by Ukrainian figures with links to Russia. In a statement, the Democratic House intelligence chair, Adam Schiff, said: “Through proxies, Russia ran a successful intelligence operation that penetrated [Trump’s] inner circle.
Russia’s government tried to seed the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign with “misleading or unsubstantiated allegations” against then-candidate Joe Biden through allies of former President Trump and his administration, U.S. intelligence officials said on Tuesday. The assessment was made in a 15-page report into election interference published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. It underscores allegations that Trump’s allies were playing into Moscow’s hands by amplifying claims made against Biden by Russian-linked Ukrainian figures in the run up to the Nov. 3 election. Biden defeated Trump and took office on Jan. 20.