© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Plastic letters arranged to read “Sanctions” are placed in front the flag colors of U.S. and Russia in this illustration taken February 28, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
By Daphne Psaledakis and Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States on Friday imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Russia over its declared annexation of parts of Ukraine, targeting hundreds of people and companies, including those in Russia’s military-industrial complex and lawmakers.
Washington acted after Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday proclaimed the biggest annexation in Europe since World War Two, declaring Russian rule over 15% of Ukraine territory occupied by Russian forces.
“We will rally the international community to both denounce these moves and to hold Russia accountable. We will continue to provide Ukraine with the equipment it needs to defend itself, undeterred by Russia’s brazen effort to redraw the borders of its neighbor,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement.
The latest sanctions come on top of sweeping measures already imposed by the United States and allies this year that have already crippled Russia’s international trading and local economy. But they stop short of Russia’s energy industry, the country’s largest source of hard currency.
Russia’s embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. In a speech on Friday, Putin criticized the West as neo-colonial and Satanist; Ukraine said it would fast-track it’s application to join NATO, the U.S.-led Western military alliance.
Guidance from the U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments warned that anyone outside Russia, including companies, that provide political, economic or material support to Moscow faced a heightened risk of sanctions.
The Treasury sanctions generally freeze any U.S. assets of those designated and bar Americans from dealing with them.
Commerce added 57 entities in Russia and Crimea to bar exports.
Treasury said it imposed sanctions on 14 people in Russia’s military-industrial complex, two leaders of the central bank, family members of top officials and 278 members of the legislature “for enabling Russia’s sham referenda and attempt to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory.”
Russia moved to annex the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in eastern and southern Ukraine after holding what it called referendums – votes that were denounced by Kyiv and Western governments as illegal and coercive.
Among those designated for U.S. sanctions were Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak; 109 State Duma members; the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of Russia and 169 of its members; and the governor of the Central Bank of Russia, Elvira Nabiullina.
Among the targets related to Russia’s defense procurement was a Chinese supplier the Treasury accused of supporting Radioavtomatika, a U.S.-designated Russian defense procurement firm.
Washington said Sinno Electronics Co Ltd, previously placed on the Commerce Department’s entity list, maintained a relationship with the Russian firm even after the invasion of Ukraine in late February.
Sinno did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Taco LLC in Armenia, Russia’s Novastream Limited, a Belarusian state-owned supplier, and Russian technology and defense firms were among other companies designated over Russia’s defense procurement.
Treasury also designated family members of Russia’s National Security Council, such as Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin’s wife and two adult children, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s wife and adult children and National Guard head Viktor Zolotov’s wife and adult children.
In addition, the immediate family members of the deputy chairman of Russia’s Federation Security Council Dmitry Medvedev, Speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko, and Saint Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov were hit with sanctions.
The U.S. State Department in a separate statement said it imposed visa restrictions on more than 900 people, including members of the Russian and Belarusian military and “Russia’s proxies for violating Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence,” barring them from traveling to the United States.
The United States singled out a Russian national, Ochur-Suge Mongush, for his involvement in what U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called “a gross violation of human rights perpetrated against a Ukrainian prisoner of war,” and said Mongush and his immediate family members cannot enter the United States.
Canada also announced measures on Friday against dozens of oligarchs, financial elites and their family members, plus 35 Russian-backed senior officials in the regions where the referendums took place. Britain also put sanctions on the central bank governor and imposed new services and goods export bans.
Washington’s targets are largely proportionate to Russia’s annexation, said Brian O’Toole, a former Treasury official now with the Atlantic Council think tank.
The action against Sinno Electronics serves as a warning to other Chinese companies and those that might do business with Russia, he said.
“I’m impressed at how robust this is given that this was a relatively short turnaround,” O’Toole said.
U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday about their “shared concern” over the Russian annexations and the need to protect critical infrastructure after the apparent sabotage of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea, the United States said.