US goes after Russian oligarchs, businesses
WASHINGTON (AP) – The United States hit seven Russian oligarchs and 17 Russian government officials with sanctions on Friday for what it called "malign activity'' around the world, as the Trump administration tried to show that President Donald Trump is taking tough action to stand up to Moscow.
A dozen Russian companies owned by the oligarchs were also targeted, along with a state-owned arms-dealing company and a subsidiary bank, the Treasury Department said. Senior administration officials cast the penalties as part of a concerted and ongoing effort by the US to push back Russian President Vladimir Putin's government and his inner circle, emphasizing that since Trump took office last year, the US has punished 189 Russian-related people and entities with sanctions.
Trump has continued to avoid directly criticizing Putin himself, and recently invited the Russian leader to meet with him, possibly at the White House. Still, in recent weeks Trump's administration has rolled out a series of actions - including several economic and diplomatic steps - to increase pressure on Putin and those in his circle.
"Nobody has been tougher on Russia than I have,'' Trump said at a news conference on Tuesday.
Rather than punishing Russia for one specific action, the new sanctions are in response to "the totality of the Russian government's ongoing and increasingly brazen pattern'' of bad behavior, said the officials, who weren't authorized to comment by name and briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.
The sanctions freeze any assets that those targeted have in US jurisdictions and bars Americans from doing business with them.