Vladimir Putin may have investments in some companies newly targeted for economic sanctions.
President Barack Obama announced
from the Philippines Monday that the United States is sanctioning seven high-level Russians, two with close ties to President Vladimir Putin because of the Kremlin's actions in Ukraine. Their assets overseas will be frozen and no travel visas will be permitted. In addition, the U.S. will freeze the assets of 17 Russian companies with links to Putin. It is the third round of sanctions issued by the United States, all of them so far targeting individuals and businesses but not entire industrial sectos.
Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen released a statement, which said:
"The sanctions build on the ones that were already in place. We're moving forward with an expanded list of individuals," Obama told reporters at a press conference in the Philippines. He described the move as “the next stage in a calibrated effort to change Russia’s behavior.”
"The goal is not to go after Mr. Putin personally. The goal is to change his calculus with respect to how the current actions that he's engaging in Ukraine could have an adverse impact on the Russian economy over the long haul.
"To encourage him to actually walk the walk and not just talk the talk when it comes to diplomatically resolving the crisis in Ukraine."
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Among the companies sanctioned is Transoil, one of the largest Russian railroad companies, and the Volga Group which finances infrastructure. Several banks and energy companies like the Stroytransgaz Group were also targeted in the sanctions. Stroytransgaz and related companies build pipelines for Gazprom, which runs the Russian domestic natural gas pipeline network. One of the targeted individuals is Igor I. Sechin, president of the state-owned Rosneft oil company, a business partner of ExxonMobil, which has numerous joint operations in Russia.
So far, the sanctions have not changed Putin's military moves in Ukraine. The Russian government has said that these moves have been in response to moves by the Ukrainian government. Pro-Russian rebels have seized several government buildings in eastern Ukraine, Ukraine has massed troops in the southeast in what is assumed to be preparations for taking the buildings and towns back. Meanwhile, Russia has massed troops on the frontier with Ukraine.
“We don’t expect there to be an immediate change in Russian policy,” said a senior administration official, briefing reporters under ground rules that did not permit him to be identified. But he said the latest actions would signal that “much more severe economic pain” could still be imposed if Moscow did not back down.
Newly sanctioned individuals:
• Oleg Belavantsev was appointed Russia's Presidential Envoy to Crimea on March 21, 2014, by President Putin.
• Sergei Chemezov was appointed by a presidential decree on November 26, 2007 as the Director General of the State Corporation for Promoting Development, Manufacturing and Export of Russian Technologies High-Tech Industrial Products, also known as Rostec. Chemezov is a trusted ally of President Putin.
• Dmitry Kozak is a Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, a position that he has held since October 2008, and to which he was reappointed by presidential decree in May 2012.
• Evgeniy Murov is the Director of Russia's Federal Protective Service and an Army General.
• Aleksei Pushkov has been a Deputy of the State Duma since December 4, 2011. He is also the Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs.
• Igor Sechin is the President and Chairman of the Management Board for Rosneft, Russia's leading petroleum company, and one of the world's largest publicly traded oil companies.
• Vyacheslav Volodin is the First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office. Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to move into Crimea is believed to have been based on consultations with his closest advisors, including Volodin.