US imposes further sanctions on Russia over Crimea, east Ukraine conflict

The United States has imposed further sanctions against Russia over the events in eastern Ukraine and Crimea. Eleven more people and 15 more companies have been put on the sanctions list.

Among the newly included firms are affiliate companies of Russian oil giant Rosneft, as well as several organizations linked to one of the country’s major banks - Vnesheconombank.

Sanctions were also imposed against five Crimean commercial ports located in the towns of Sevastopol, Feodoisa, Kerch, Evpatoria and Yalta, as well as the Kerch ferry service.

The US embassy to Russia said that Washington regards the new sanctions not as an escalation of tensions between the countries but rather as a "routine step" in strengthening current US policy.

The embassy said the restrictions are not linked to Russia vetoing the resolution on an MH17 tribunal.

The new US sanctions also targeted a Ukrainian businessman from Donetsk, Oleksandr Yanukovich, son of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, who was toppled by the Maidan protests in 2014.

Along with Yanukovich's son, the list also included the environment minister from his cabinet, Eduard Stavytsky.

Another target of the new US sanctions was Roman Rotenberg, the son of the Russian businessman Boris Rotenberg and the member of the Kontinental Hockey League Executive board.

The US sanctions also targeted Russian arms industry and arms export as the new list targeted the Kalashnikov Concern.

The US sanctions will not affect the corporate activities of the Kalashnikov Concern, as the production of the Izhevsk Mechanical Plant that has been added to the sanctions list has not been delivering to the US for more than a year, the press-service of the Kalashnikov Concern said.

“This is evidence indicating that the United States does not only impose sanctions against the state but also seek to put pressure on the private enterprises. This is evidence of unfair competition and protectionist measures the USA is using amid the growing demand for Russian light weapons as well as the growing sales of Russian weapons on the US market,” the Kalashnikov Concern spokesperson said as reported by TASS.

Adding of two managers of the company to the sanctions list “also caused astonishment and resentment, as these two people are responsible for selling only civilian industry products,” the spokesperson added.

"These new sanctions were imposed to ensure the efficacy of the existing sanctions, these are not new sanctions," the Department of the Treasury's spokesman said, adding that "it is a common practice... as sanctions could erode over time without such measures."

READ MORE: West looks to close loopholes in anti-Russian sanctions – media

"This is not common practice, and this is no coincidence... The US is getting back into the game of competing with Russia," Gregory Copley, editor of the Defense and Foreign Policy Journal, told RT.

"The sanctions are not helping anybody... they are also reinforcing the growing rift between the United States and the European Union and that will have profound negative effect over their relations as Europe is already split over the sanctions," he added.

‘Sanctions are hostility, economic warfare’

US sanctions on Russia are a hostile act and there is nothing “routine” about it, a political analyst from the anti-war ANSWER Coalition, Richard Becker, told RT. 

“The sanctions are linked to the very aggressive policy that the United States government has been carrying out in Ukraine and against the government of Russia. [It] represents another form of that aggressive behavior that the United States has imposed on so many countries,” Becker said. “It is not ‘routine.’ It is an action of hostility, it is an action of economic warfare.” 

“The US does not routinely impose sanctions on other countries which are in gross violation of international law and human rights, like Saudi Arabia or Jordan, which are its allies,” the pro-peace activist added.

Becker also questioned America’s position on issuing sanctions against other countries, given that it is, itself, a nation that violates international laws abroad. 

“The US claims it is doing it because Russia violates the international law, but the US continues to violate the international law in its illegal occupation of a number of countries, including Iraq. Yet there are no sanctions against the US by other countries, which is due to its power and has nothing to do with justice or abiding by international law or not,” he said. 

Becker believes that it is uncertain whether other European countries will join in further sanctions due to their close economic ties with Russia.