US blacklists 11 more Russians, 15 firms over Crimean crisis

Jul 30, 2015 12:00 AM

The U.S. has introduced sanctions against 11 more Russian individuals and 15 companies due to activities in Crimea, the Treasury Department said in a report Thursday.

The list of companies includes Izhevsk Machine Building Plant (Izhmash), which produces the famous Kalashnikov rifle, several trade ports in Crimea, affiliates of Vnesheconombank (VEB) and oil company Rosneft.

Businessman Roman Rotenberg and Alexander Yanukovich, a son of the former Ukrainian president, were also added to the list.

Spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Russia William Stephens told PRIME that the step was not meant to scale up the sanctions. “In order to make sure that the current sanctions had an effect, we must at times refresh the list that we have and today’s extension of the list is targeted against those who escape sanctions or support such people,” the official said.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that this step will not be left without response.

“By imposing new sanctions against Russian citizens and companies, the U.S. has once again showed that it made a choice in favor of strengthening confrontation. Washington continues to practice in expanding the sanction campaign against Russia instead of urging Kiev to fulfill the Minsk agreements, and continues justifying it by the situation in Ukraine,” the ministry said.

“We recommend thinking of how these controversial actions are not only destroying the Russia–U.S. relations, but also do not help find solutions to other international problems. Of course, such a line will not be left without a response.”

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the Kremlin does not rule out asymmetric retaliation to the sanctions extension.

“In general, the principle of mutuality, of course, is the basic principle in such exchange of sanctions. At the same time, some asymmetric actions cannot be ruled out. But again, I repeat one more time, this is not a goal in itself,” Peskov said.

Stephens said that Roman Rotenberg was blacklisted because he helped his father Boris Rotenberg bypass the punishment.

Sanctions removal will be discussed only after the Ukraine truce agreements made in Minsk are fulfilled, a representative of the U.S. State Department Mark Toner said.

Peskov said that the U.S. move is unreasonable and has no goal in sight.

Oil major Rosneft said in a statement that it will establish a system to calculate losses from sanctions and will file lawsuits to courts over the actions.

Affiliates of VEB, Sviaz-Bank and Globexbank, said that their activities are unaffected by the sanctions. The Russian Direct Investment Fund, which is also an affiliate of the blacklisted state bank, also said that its operations will not change.

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