US sanc­tions Rus­sians over Crimea

The Weekend Australian - - WORLD - WASH­ING­TON:

The US yes­ter­day an­nounced sanc­tions against three peo­ple and nine en­ti­ties over Rus­sia’s in­ter­ven­tion in Ukraine, vow­ing there would be con­se­quences for do­ing busi­ness in an­nexed Crimea.

The sanc­tions will freeze any US-based as­sets and ban fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tions with the tar­gets, who in­clude Vladimir Zar­it­sky, the for­mer com­man­der-in-chief of Rus­sia’s mis­sile forces and ar­tillery who is lead­ing a ho­tel project in Crimea.

The US Trea­sury Depart­ment “re­mains com­mit­ted to tar­get­ing Rus­sian-backed en­ti­ties that seek to profit from Rus­sia’s il­le­gal an­nex­a­tion and oc­cu­pa­tion of Crimea”, said Si­gal Man­delker, the Trea­sury un­der sec­re­tary for ter­ror­ism and fi­nan­cial in­tel­li­gence.

“Our sanc­tions are a clear re­minder that ef­forts seek­ing to nor­malise in­vest­ment and eco­nomic re­la­tion­ships with those op­er­at­ing in Crimea will not be tol­er­ated and are sub­ject to US and EU sanc­tions au­thor­i­ties.”

In 2014, Moscow an­nexed Crimea, the Black Sea penin­sula whose pop­u­la­tion is largely eth­ni­cally Rus­sian but was part of Ukraine, as part of a strug­gle to keep Kiev from fall­ing into the West­ern or­bit.

West­ern pow­ers were ef­fec­tively pow­er­less to stop the an­nex­a­tion but have vowed never to recog­nise the move.

The mea­sures come as the State Depart­ment says it is pre­par­ing wider sanc­tions against Rus­sia, as re­quired by congress, over a nerve at­tack car­ried out in Bri­tain against a for­mer dou­ble agent.

Rus­sia has hit back over those sanc­tions and vowed re­cip­ro­cal mea­sures. De­spite the sanc­tions, Don­ald Trump has de­scribed an affin­ity for his Rus­sian coun­ter­part Vladimir Putin. The two will at­tend No­vem­ber 11 cer­e­monies in Paris for the cen­ten­nial of the end of World War I and then rub shoul­ders in Buenos Aires at the G20 sum­mit.

The US also sanc­tioned Zar­it­sky’s firm for buy­ing three ho­tels in Crimea that had been owned by the Ukraine state and were taken over af­ter the an­nex­a­tion.

Also un­der the new sanc­tions is the Mriya Re­sort and Spa, a lux­ury ho­tel de­signed by Bri­tish ar­chi­tect Nor­man Foster that opened in the re­sort of Yalta shortly af­ter the an­nex­a­tion and which the US Trea­sury called “the main Rus­sian plat­form for show­cas­ing in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in Crimea”.

Trea­sury im­posed sanc­tions also on An­driy Volodymy­rovych Sushko, an of­fi­cer of the FSB se­cu­rity agency, who al­legedly ab­ducted and tor­tured an ac­tivist from Crimea’s Tatars.

Also sanc­tioned was Alexan­der Basov, the deputy min­istry of state se­cu­rity in the in­ter­na­tion­ally un­recog­nised Luhansk Peo­ple’s Repub­lic in eastern Ukraine, where more than 10,000 peo­ple have been killed since 2014 in a Rus­sian-backed in­sur­gency fol­low­ing the an­nex­a­tion of Crimea.

Trea­sury said Basov had per­se­cuted Je­ho­vah’s Wit­nesses.

AFP

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