The Trump administration imposed new sanctions on seven of Russia’s richest men and 17 top government officials on Friday in the latest effort to punish President Vladimir V. Putin’s inner circle for interference in the 2016 election and other Russian aggressions.
The sanctions are designed to penalize some of Russia’s richest industrialists, who are seen in the West as enriching themselves from Mr. Putin’s increasingly authoritarian administration.
They grow out of an oddly disjointed policy toward Russia on the part of the Trump administration: While President Trump continues to call for good relations with Mr. Putin, Congress and much of the rest of the administration are pushing through increasingly punitive efforts that are sinking relations with Moscow to lows not seen in years.
“The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government’s destabilizing activities.”
Among those sanctioned are Oleg V. Deripaska, an oligarch who once had close ties to Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.
Also sanctioned was Suleiman Kerimov — a financier close to Mr. Putin; Vladimir Bogdanov, a top executive of Surgutneftegaz, a Russian oil company; Igor Rotenberg, another oil executive; Kirill Shamalov, an energy executive who married Mr. Putin’s daughter, Katerina Tikhonova; Andrei Skoch, a deputy of the Russian Federation’s State Duma; and Viktor Vekselberg, chairman of the Renova Group, a Russian investment firm.
The sanctions have been under consideration for some time and were not imposed solely because of the recent poisoning in England but rather “in response to the totality of the Russian government’s ongoing and increasingly brazen pattern of malign activity around the world,” a senior administration official said in a conference call with reporters, adding: “But most importantly this is in response to Russia’s continuing attack to subvert Western democracies.”
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SOURCE: NY Times, Gardiner Harris