U.S. ex­pands sanc­tions over Rus­sia ac­tiv­i­ties in Ukraine

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - The As­so­ci­ated Press

The U.S. im­posed sanc­tions Thurs­day on three men and nine en­ti­ties, in­clud­ing a lux­ury ho­tel on the Black Sea, as it seeks to in­crease pres­sure on Moscow over its an­nex­a­tion of Crimea and hu­man rights abuses in Ukraine.

The Trea­sury Depart­ment sanc­tioned An­driy Sushko, a mem­ber of the Rus­sian se­cu­rity agency known as the FSB, who is sus­pected in the ab­duc­tion of a Crimean Tatar ac­tivist who has protested the an­nex­a­tion. Also on the sanc­tions list is Alek­sandr Basov, a top separatist of­fi­cial in Luhansk, in east­ern Ukraine, who is ac­cused of ha­rass­ing and abus­ing re­li­gious mi­nori­ties. His em­ployer, the Min­istry of State Se­cu­rity in the self­pro­claimed Luhansk govern­ment, was also sanc­tioned over the tor­ture and abuse of de­tainees.

Trea­sury said the Mriya Re­sort and Spa, a fives­tar ho­tel on the south­ern coast of Crimea, was added be­cause its own­er­ship can be traced to Rus­sia’s state-owned Sber­bank, which had al­ready faced sanc­tions. It is also a tar­get as the venue for the an­nual Yalta In­ter­na­tional Eco­nomic Fo­rum, which is used by Rus­sia to pro­mote in­vest­ment in Crimea. Three other ho­tels that were seized and sold after the an­nex­a­tion were also added to the list, a des­ig­na­tion that bars any U.S.-linked fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tions and freezes any as­sets they have un­der Amer­i­can ju­ris­dic­tion. Vladimir Zar­it­sky, a for­mer com­man­der of the Mis­sile Forces and Ar­tillery of Rus­sia, who owns the three ho­tels, was also added to the list.

Rus­sia dis­missed the sanc­tions. “Any Amer­i­can at­tempts to score po­lit­i­cal points us­ing events that have al­ready be­come his­tory are of course doomed to fail­ure and will not be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion by us,” Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Ryabkov told the In­ter­fax news agency.

Rus­sia an­nexed Crimea in 2014 after push­ing through a separatist vote there. Moscow then went on to back sep­a­ratists in east­ern Ukraine in a con­flict that has claimed more than 10,000 lives.

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