The United States punished dozens of Russian oligarchs and government officials on Friday with sanctions that took direct aim at President Vladimir Putin's inner circle, as President Donald Trump's administration tried to show he's not afraid to take tough action against 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.
A state-owned arms-dealing company, accused by the USA of selling to Assad, was also targeted, along with a subsidiary bank.
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.
Sarah Hucabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said earlier this week that talks were continuing between Trump and his lawyers about a possible interview with Mueller. The sanctions will freeze any assets that those targeted have in US jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them.
He said that Trump's attorneys are correct in trying to protect the president from a potential "perjury trap", but added that it may be wise for the New Yorker to go ahead with any interview so as not to embroil him in grand jury case over a subpoena.
"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.
Above all else, Russia's attempts to subvert Western democracy prompted the USA sanctions, officials said, in a direct nod to concerns that the U.S. president has failed to challenge Mr Putin for alleged interference in the 2016 election that brought Mr Trump to power.
Campaigners against Kremlin corruption welcomed the United States move.
But Friday's announcement also came as Washington and its allies face a new diplomatic crisis with the Kremlin over the attempted poisoning of a former Russian double agent on British soil.
Deripaska, whose business conglomerate controls assets from agriculture to machinery, has been a prominent figure in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation over his ties to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
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 has been criticized by many for not taking a stronger stance on Russian Federation election interference and destabilizing actions.
Sergei Skripal is recovering in hospital, but officials in Britain and its ally the United States say he was poisoned by "Novichok", a nerve agent they say only Russian intelligence could have deployed.
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