U.S. hits 38 Russian government officials, oligarchs with new sanctions

President Donald Trump adjusts his overcoat on his return to the White House on Thursday. Trump's administration on Friday announced new punitive sanctions against a list of Russian individuals and entities. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

By Susan McFarland UPI

The Trump administration on Friday took further action against Russia for what officials say has been Moscow’s brazen behavior and attacks on Western democracy — laying sanctions on 38 Russian oligarchs, government officials and business entities.

In what the White House considers a national security issue, the sanctions are a response to “the Kremlin’s malign agenda,” which officials say range from cyberattacks to its actions in Ukraine and Syria.

On Friday’s sanctions list are seven Russian oligarchs and the 12 companies they own, 17 senior Russian government officials, a government-owned weapons trading company and its subsidiary bank. They are accused of money laundering, wiretapping, extortion, racketeering and tax evasion, the White House told reporters in a conference call.

“This sends a clear message that actions have consequences,” a senior administration official said. “Those targeting in the sanctions have reaped disproportionable benefits under the Russian regime.”

Some of the targets include Russian elites like Kirill Shamalov, the husband of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s daughter, who officials say received a loan of more than $1 billion from state-owned Gazprombank.

Any U.S. assets held by the sanctioned individuals will be frozen, and American citizens and organizations are barred from doing business with those on the blacklist.

White House officials made it clear the actions are not aimed at the Russian people.

“The door to dialogue is open. We seek a better relationship with Russia, and it will only happen when Russia stops its aggressive behavior,” the White House official said. “The individuals and companies will see the consequences in the near term and will have to adjust their plans in the future if Russia stays on its current course.”