U.S. hits Russian deputy minister and energy firms with sanctions

U.S. hits Russian deputy minister and energy firms with sanctions”

A man passes by a billboard with an image of Russia's President Vladimir Putin and lettering "Strong president - Strong Russia!" in Simferopol, Crimea, on January 18, 2018.

The United States has imposed sanctions on 21 people and nine companies linked to the Russia-backed conflict in eastern Ukraine, the latest effort by Washington to put pressure on groups most actively involved in the almost 4-year-old conflict.

In this latest round, the Treasury Department targeted 11 people identified as top separatist officials in eastern Ukraine.

Companies involving in building infrastructure in Crimea were among the ones targeted.

"This action underscores the US government's opposition to Russia's occupation of Crimea and firm refusal to recognize its attempted annexation of the peninsula", the department said in a statement.

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has said that during a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan.26 the parties agreed to coordinate actions in the field of defense and security.

Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which administers sanctions, banned more than a dozen Russian government officials, Russian business executives, and Ukrainian separatist leaders involved with Russia's occupation.

In Russia, lawmakers responded defiantly.

The minister said that Russia's foreign policy is based on the country's national interests and will not submit to foreign pressure. "We don't recognise one-sided American sanctions, we have no worldwide obligations to comply with them", RIA quoted Morgulov as saying.

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