June 5, 2023

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US sanctions hit more than 120 targets in support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Wednesday slapped sanctions on more than 120 targets of pressure on Russia over its war in Ukraine, going after entities linked to state-owned energy firm Rosatom and companies based in partner countries such as Turkey for reference. Strengthening enforcement.

The sanctions, imposed by the Treasury and foreign ministries in coordination with Britain, hit entities and individuals in more than 20 countries and jurisdictions, including a Russian private military company, a China-based company and a Russian-owned bank in Hungary.

The Treasury Department said it sanctioned Russian financial facilitators and sanctions evaders around the world, including in the United Arab Emirates, and companies and companies based in China.

These measures reflect efforts by the US government to expand the network of US sanctions imposed on Moscow since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and to thwart efforts to circumvent it.

One of the main targets was Russian billionaire businessman Alisher Usmanov, who the Treasury Department described as having “at his disposal an extensive network of companies in financial safe havens and family members with which to conduct financial transactions, enabling him to potentially circumvent sanctions.”

The State Department said it targeted businessman USM Holdings and several of its subsidiaries.

The company said it considered the actions “unfair and unfounded,” saying Usmanov, who had previously been subject to US sanctions, had long since resigned from the business and was not involved in management.

“The United States will continue to take action against Russia and those who support its war in Ukraine,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement, adding that it was in line with the G7’s commitment to “impose severe consequences on third country actors.” who support Russia’s war in Ukraine.

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In addition to trying to strangle the Russian economy, the United States and its allies provided Ukraine with massive weapons in its 13-month effort to fend off a Russian invasion.

private military company

Among the targets targeted Wednesday was the private military company Patriot, which the Foreign Ministry said is linked to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and competes with the Wagner mercenary group.

It also targeted China HEAD Aerospace Technology Co., a China-based reseller of satellite imagery that the State Department said provided satellite imagery of sites in Ukraine to entities affiliated with Wagner and its boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

The Treasury also targeted King-Pai Technology HK Co, Ltd, which it said is a China-based supplier to multiple entities in Russia’s military-industrial complex.

The State Department said five entities and an individual from Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy company Rosatom were also targeted in an effort to restrict the company, accusing Rosatom of using energy exports to exert political and economic pressure on its customers.

Washington did not impose sanctions on Rosatom itself.

The United States also slapped sanctions on at least four Turkey-based entities it said violated US export controls and helped Russia’s war effort in the largest US enforcement action in Turkey since the invasion.

Clayton Allen, an analyst at the Eurasia Group, said imposing sanctions on Turkish companies indicates that US partner countries are not immune from US actions.

“Passing this threshold is an important development,” he said, noting that the commitment to enforcement even if it causes friction with partners indicates “the US expectation that the current sanctions structure will persist in the long term.”

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Among the companies organized under Usmanov’s USM Holdings that Washington has targeted is the Russian mobile phone company Megafon. Russia’s largest iron ore producer, Metalloinvest, including Switzerland-based Metalloinvest and its UAE subsidiaries; operator of the Russia-based Udokan copper project; and the Uzbekistan-based cement producer Akhangarancement in Uzmanov.

The listing of Megafon, one of Russia’s four largest telecoms companies, marks a shift as Western sanctions have so far fallen short of targeting Russian telecoms infrastructure.

Megaphone’s press office said it considered the sanctions “an unfair, illegal and baseless move,” adding that it intended to challenge it.

The US Treasury also said it imposed sanctions on the Budapest-based International Investment Bank (IIB), a bank majority owned by Russia with which some European countries cut ties, and three current or former executives.

“The presence of the IIB in Budapest enables Russia to increase its intelligence presence in Europe, opens the door to the Kremlin’s malign influence activities in Central Europe and the Western Balkans, and can serve as a mechanism for corruption and illicit financing, including sanctions violations.” He said.

The Treasury also targeted Sequoia Treuhand Trust Reg, a Liechtenstein-based trust services firm, saying its clients include Russian elites such as Gennady Nikolayevich Timchenko.

(Reporting by Daphne Psalidakis). Additional reporting by Jonathan Spicer in Istanbul. Writing by Daphne Psalidakis and Arshad Mohamed; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Jonathan Otis, and Leslie Adler

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