Treasury sanctions Russian businesses, execs tied to Crimea occupation

Treasury sanctions Russian businesses, execs tied to Crimea occupation
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The Treasury Department on Tuesday announced sanctions against eight Russian bankers and businessmen and seven companies over links to Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine.

The sanctioned individuals and businesses have extensive financial, construction and infrastructure ties to Crimea. The Treasury will block the U.S.-based assets of those targeted Tuesday, and U.S. persons and companies are banned from financial transactions with them.

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Tuesday’s sanctions come as tension simmers over U.S. intelligence agencies’ findings that Russia hacked the emails of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonElise Stefanik seeks to tackle GOP’s women ‘crisis’ ahead of 2020 Russian pop star linked to Trump Tower meeting cancels US tour Graham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies MORE campaign chairman John Podesta, aiming to aid Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man Al Sharpton criticizes Trump’s ‘secret’ visit to MLK monument Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values MORE during the presidential election.

“Today’s action is in response to Russia’s unlawful occupation of Crimea and continued aggression in Ukraine,” said John E. Smith, acting director of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. “These targeted sanctions aim to maintain pressure on Russia by sustaining the costs of its occupation of Crimea and disrupting the activities of those who support the violence and instability in Ukraine.”

Kirill Kovalchuk, Dmitri Lebedev, Dmitri Mansurov, Mikhail Klishin, Oleg Minaev and Mikhail Dedov, all executives with Bank Rossiya or its affiliates, were sanctioned for acting on behalf of the bank. Bank Rossiya has extensive ties to the Russian government.

Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a Russian businessman, has close ties with the Russia's Ministry of Defense and a company with extensive ties to him is under contract to build a Russian military base near the country’s border with Ukraine.

The sanctions also target eight infrastructure, shipping and construction companies with ties to projects in and near Crimea.

Though Tuesday's sanctions aren't directly related to Russian hacking, President Obama promised retaliation in an interview last week.

"There is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections, that we need to take action and we will — at a time and place of our own choosing,” Obama told NPR. "Some of it may be explicit and publicized, some of it may not be."

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said his government is mulling "how we can respond asymmetrically."

"We reserve the right to choose the timing, the venue and form of counter-moves the way that will suit us, and the way it will be relevant to our own priorities in the American direction," Ryabkov told Russian-owned Tass news service. "We have repeatedly said and say once again that we all must be on alert."

This story was updated at 3:35 p.m. with reporting from Nikita Vladimirov.