Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

U.S. Expands Sanctions on Russia

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

U.S. Expands Sanctions on Russia

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - The Trump administration ratcheted up pressure on Russia on Tuesday, unveiling sanctions on more than three dozen additional individuals and organizations that have participated in the country's incursion in Ukraine.

The Treasury Department made the announcement on the same day that President Donald Trump hosted his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko, at the White House to discuss a peaceful resolution to the conflict with Russia. The sanctions also came as Mr. Trump continues to face questions about whether his campaign colluded with Russia to help him defeat Hillary Clinton.

The new sanctions underscored the renewed tension in already abysmal relations between Washington and Moscow. On Monday, Russia threatened to target U.S. and other coalition aircraft over Syria a day after an American fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said there should be no sanctions relief for Russia until it meets its obligations under the Minsk agreements - the 2015 cease-fire deal between Russia and Ukraine - while measures "related to Crimea will not be lifted until Russia ends its occupation of the peninsula."

"These designations will maintain pressure on Russia to work toward a diplomatic solution," he said. "This administration is committed to a diplomatic process that guarantees Ukrainian sovereignty."

Two Russian government officials are included in the latest sanctions as well as two people "acting for or on behalf of a government official" and 38 individuals and entities under Ukraine-related authorities, the Treasury said. There are also "two entities that are owned or controlled by an individual previously designated, and 11 individuals and entities that operate in the Crimea region of Ukraine," according to the statement.

Among the most intriguing sanctions were those involving a motorcycle gang, Russian President Vladimir Putin's chef and a shadowy company that supplies contract soldiers to Russian military efforts overseas.

"The Trump administration deserves some credit both for the timing and for the substance of these sanctions," said Daniel Fried, America's longest-serving diplomat and State Department coordinator for sanctions policy up until his retirement several months ago. "This is not a softball list. Nobody tried to water it down. There's too much good stuff in here."

Meanwhile, Mr. Poroshenko's brief, "drop-in" visit appeared to be a departure for the Trump White House, which has been featuring one-on-one meetings with presidents big and small, sometimes followed by a joint press conference.

"It was being kept very, very quiet," Askold Krushelnysky, a journalist closely following the visit, told Foreign Policy. …

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