The US Treasury sanctions the Russian mining sector and investigates sanctions evasion
By Andrea Shalal and Jonathan Landay
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The US Treasury Department on Friday imposed new sanctions on Russian banks and targeted the mining and metals sectors while prosecuting over 30 individuals and companies from Switzerland, Germany and the Middle East for helping Moscow have to circumvent previous sanctions and maintain funding for his war against Ukraine.
The new measures, announced on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion, hit over 250 individuals and organizations and came on top of more than 2,500 sanctions imposed last year. The action would further isolate Russia from the global economy, the finance ministry said in a statement.
The new sanctions have been coordinated with other US agencies, US allies and the Group of Seven Rich Nations to limit Russia’s ability to fight the war that has killed tens of thousands and uprooted millions of Ukrainians.
“What we are doing today furthers vice around the Kremlin’s ability to wage its war in Ukraine,” Deputy Finance Minister Wally Adeyemo told CNBC. He said the US administration is sending a clear signal to the world: “If you support Russia, you will be cut off from economies, not just from the United States but from our allies and partners.”
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen underscored America’s strong commitment to continue to pressure Russia and support Ukraine. “Our actions today with our G7 partners show that we will stand by Ukraine for as long as necessary,” she said.
The Treasury said the latest measures aimed to hamper Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ability to raise capital to finance the war by targeting banks, asset management firms and individuals in Russia’s financial services sector.
The action, which freezes all US assets of the targets and generally prevents Americans from doing business with them, marks the latest round of US sanctions against Russia.
“We will not stop using every tool at our disposal to disrupt Russia’s ability to wage war,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters, adding that further sanctions are possible if we do would be required. “We will just keep going, and so will our allies and partners.
METALS AND MINING
In a significant expansion of Russia-related sanctions, the Ministry of Finance announced a new Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) decision authorizing sanctions against any person or entity engaged in Russia’s metals and mining sector.
Four companies in the mining and metals sector, including TPZ-Rondol, a unit of Russia’s largest ammunition maker, were hit on Friday for making weapons for Russia’s military, including the navy, the finance ministry said.
Among other companies hit on Friday were more than a dozen Russian banks. These included the Moscow-based Credit Bank of Moscow Joint Public Stock Company, Russia’s largest non-state public bank, which blocked the European Union completely in December.
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued a license that set a deadline of 12:01 am on May 25 for settling transactions with some of the companies, the statement said.
Another bank hit was MTS Bank, based in Moscow and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Brian Nelson, the Treasury’s chief sanctions officer, expressed concerns about the UAE’s decision to license the Russian bank during a visit to the country during the week of January 30.
Other new targets included Walter Moretti, a Swiss-Italian businessman and a network of companies involved in clandestine purchases of sensitive Western technology for Russian intelligence and the military, the Treasury Ministry said.
A German, an Italian, a Swiss Italian and four Swiss who had worked with Moretti were also sanctioned, it said.
The Treasury also sanctioned the founders of Russian asset management firm Confideri Pte Ltd, Russian-Israeli nationals Olga Borisovna Raykes and Marat Maratovich Savelov, who also own a firm in Vienna, Austria.
Also sanctioned were other Russian firms involved in providing technology and materials to Russian intelligence and the military, including the UMATEX Joint-Stock Company, which makes carbon fiber used in aircraft and missiles.
The firms also included some that the Treasury Ministry said provided Russian intelligence with support for “malicious influence operations” and databases of personal information on Western nationals.
(Reporting by Jonathan Landay and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Philippa Fletcher and David Gregorio)