U.S. Treasury sanctions Russian mining sector, goes after sanctions evasion
By Andrea Shalal and Jonathan Landay
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Treasury Department on Friday slapped new sanctions on Russian banks and targeted its mining and metals sector, while going after over 30 people and companies from Switzerland, Germany and the Middle East for helping Moscow evade earlier sanctions and keep funding its war against Ukraine.
The new measures, announced on the first anniversary of Russia's invasion, hit over 250 individuals and entities, adding to more than 2,500 sanctions imposed over the past year. The action would further isolate Russia from the global economy, Treasury said in a statement.
The new sanctions were coordinated with other U.S. agencies, U.S. allies and the Group of Seven rich nations to limit Russia's ability to wage the war that has killed tens of thousands, and uprooted millions of Ukrainians.
"What we're doing today is furthering the vice around the Kremlin's ability to fight its war in Ukraine," Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told CNBC. He said the U.S. government was sending a clear signal to the world: "If you support Russia, you're going to face being cut off from the economies, not just of the United States, but of our allies and partners."
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen underscored America's deep commitment to continue piling pressure on Russia and supporting Ukraine. "Our actions today with our G7 partners show that we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes," she said.
Treasury said the latest measures were aimed at impeding Russian President Vladimir Putin's ability to raise capital to fund the war by targeting banks, wealth management-related firms and individuals in Russia's financial services sector.
The action, which freezes any U.S. assets of those targeted and generally bars Americans from dealing with them, marks the latest round of U.S. sanctions on Russia.
"We're not going to stop using every tool available to us to disrupt Russia's ability to wage its war," White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters, adding that further sanctions were possible if needed. "We're just going to keep at this, and so are our allies and partners.
METALS AND MINING
In a significant widening of Russia-related sanctions, Treasury announced a new determination by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) that allows sanctions on any individual or entity operating in Russia's metals and mining sector.
On Friday, it hit four mining and metals sector companies, including TPZ-Rondol, a unit of Russia's largest ammunition maker, for producing weapons for the Russian military, including the navy, the Treasury said.
Among other entities hit on Friday were more than a dozen Russian banks. They included the Moscow-based Credit Bank of Moscow Joint Public Stock Company, Russia's largest non-state public bank, which the European Union fully blocked in December.
Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control issued a license setting a deadline of 12:01 a.m. on May 25 for the winding down of transactions with some of the entities, the statement said.
Another bank hit was MTS Bank, which is located in Moscow and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Brian Nelson, Treasury's top sanctions official raised concerns about UAE's decision to license the Russian bank during a visit to the country the week of Jan. 30.
Other new targets included Walter Moretti, a Swiss-Italian business executive and a network of companies involved in secretly purchasing sensitive Western technology for Russian intelligence services and the military, Treasury said.
A German, an Italian, a Swiss Italian and four Swiss who worked with Moretti also were sanctioned, it said.
Treasury also sanctioned the founders of Russian wealth-management firm Confideri Pte Ltd, Russian-Israeli citizens Olga Borisovna Raykes and Marat Maratovich Savelov, who also own a firm in Vienna, Austria.
Also sanctioned were more Russian firms involved in providing technology and materials to Russian intelligence agencies and the military, including UMATEX Joint-Stock Company, which produces carbon fibers used in aircraft and rockets.
The firms also included some that Treasury said provided Russian intelligence with support for "malign influence operations" and databases containing the personal information of Western nationals.
(Reporting by Jonathan Landay and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Philippa Fletcher and David Gregorio)