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Trump administration imposes sweeping new sanctions on Russian elite

08 April 2018

Moscow said on Friday it would respond firmly to new USA sanctions imposed against Russian businessmen, companies and government officials for what Washington called "malign activity" including alleged meddling in the 2016 United States election.

To the dismay of Mr Trump's critics and of Russia hawks, the president has continued to avoid directly criticising 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.

It was not clear whether any of those hit have significant holdings in the USA that could be seized, and if they did previously, they may have already moved their money elsewhere in anticipation of the sanctions. Other companies that were put on the list include an agriculture company, Agroholding Kuban; one of the largest diversified industrial groups in Russia, the Basic Element; also listed are a auto, train and plane producer, Russian Cars (Russkie Mashiny).

The sanctions could potentially hurt the Russian economy, especially the financial and energy sectors, and are part of Washington's effort to hold Russia to account for allegedly interfering in the election, which Moscow denies.

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"What we see in the sanctions is a USA attempt to split Russian society", the Russian embassy in the United States said in its statement, adding that such attempts would fail.

Former Solicitor General Kenneth Starr said Saturday on "Fox & Friends" that the Mueller probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian Federation doesn't seem to be actually investigating that particular allegation.

Putin's government was blamed for the poisoning of a former Russian double agent living in close USA ally Britain last month, and the United States and several European states announced plans to expel more than 100 Russian diplomats in response.

Trump begrudgingly signed the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) in August previous year, despite arguing that it undermined his own authority to lead United States foreign policy.

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Nineteen people, including several former members of the Trump campaign, have so far been hit with criminal charges stemming from the special counsel investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election, including possible collusion.

"Today's sanctions are basically an addition to the SDN List which means that United States entities are prohibited from any dealings with these persons & companies", BCS Global Markets chief economist Vladimir Tikhomirov commented on April 6, adding that in practice sanctioned entities will not be able to use U.S. dollar accounts, make transfers in USA dollars, or enter into any contracts with USA firms.

There was no immediate reaction from Russia's government. "The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

Ties had already plummeted to a post-Cold War low over last month's attack on a former Russian double agent living in England. The administration has also expelled dozens of Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian consulates in response to Russian behavior, including the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain that has been blamed on Moscow. Click any of these buttons below!

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Trump administration imposes sweeping new sanctions on Russian elite