Trump administration to hit more Russians with sanctions

Poisoned daughter of ex-spy out of hospital

Despite all statements from Washington, sanctions are clearly aimed against ordinary Russian citizens, the country's embassy in the USA said.

"We will not let the current attack, or any new anti-Russian attack, go without a tough response", Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement, after the USA sanctions which also target 12 companies owned by the oligarchs, 17 senior Russian officials and a state-owned arms export company.

US President Donald Trump has begun initial preparations for a potential interview with special counsel Robert Mueller who is now probing the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, a media report said. "Of course, we will not leave the current and any new anti-Russian attack without a tough response".

The fresh sanctions are the latest step by the U.S. against Russia following the poisoning of a former Russian spy in England, interference in the United States 2016 election and a cyberattack, CNN said.

Campaigners against Kremlin corruption welcomed the USA move. "We are told that these measures are not aimed against the Russian people".

The Russian government engages in a range of malign activity around the globe, including continuing to occupy Crimea and instigate violence in eastern Ukraine, supplying the Assad regime with material and weaponry as they bomb their own civilians, attempting to subvert Western democracies, and malicious cyber activities, Mnuchin said.

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Mnuchin said, "Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government's destabilizing activities".

Those sanctioned include, "seven Russian oligarchs and 12 companies they own or control, 17 senior Russian government officials, and a state-owned Russian weapons trading company and its subsidiary, a Russian bank" according to the Treasury Department statement.

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". Some Russian lawmakers have already spoken about a possible "asymmetric response" that could target the United States both politically and economically.

The US Treasury Department blacklisted businessmen Oleg Deripaska, Vladimir Bogdanov, Suleiman Kerimov, Igor Rotenberg, Kirill Shamalov, Andrei Skoch and Viktor Vekselberg. Senior Trump administration officials cast it as part of a concerted, ongoing effort to push back on Putin, emphasizing that since Trump took office previous year, the USA has punished 189 Russian-related people and entities with sanctions.

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.

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