U.S. slaps sanctions on Russian oligarchs

President Donald Trump right and Russia President Vladimir Putin in November at the APEC Summit

On Friday, the US Treasury imposed a set of tough new measures against Moscow, which it accuses of "a range of malign activity around the globe", including the alleged instigation of violence in eastern Ukraine and support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.

To the dismay of Trump's critics and of Russia hawks, the president has continued to avoid directly criticizing Putin himself and recently invited the Russian leader to meet with him, possibly at the White House. "As the president has said, he wants to have a good relationship with Russia but that's going to depend on some of the actions by the Russians", she said at a news briefing.

The action, taken Friday under pressure from the U.S. Congress, freezes the U.S. assets of "oligarchs" such as aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska and lawmaker Suleiman Kerimov, whose family controls Russia's largest gold producer, Polyus.

Last week, Trump expelled 60 Russian diplomats in connection with the United Kingdom nerve agent attack on a former Russia spy and his daughter.

Despite all statements from Washington, sanctions are clearly aimed against ordinary Russian citizens, the country's embassy in the United States said.

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On March 15, the Trump administration said it would impose sanctions on 19 people and five entities, including Russian intelligence services, for cyberattacks stretching back at least two years. Both Miller and Kostin are longtime key members of Putin's team.

Russia will not leave new USA sanctions and any future hostile actions without a tough response, the Russian Foreign Ministry has said after Washington announced a new round of restrictions against Moscow.

Washington's move against the Russian business houses and individuals would mean that their assets will be frozen in the USA, while Americans will be blocked from doing business with them. In January, lists of Russian officials and oligarchs were published by the State Department and Treasury. The administration of President Donald Trump also accused Russian Federation of a continuing operation to hack the USA energy grid and other critical infrastructure, and spying on the United States.

"Washington has delivered yet another blow on the Russian-US relations".

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