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    US Blocks Russian Assets Worth Hundreds of Millions of Dollars - Treasury

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    The US Treasury warned against a "challenge" posed by Russia, citing its "malign conduct" and calling for a "firm and vigorous response." The sanctions, it says, were imposed due to an alleged violation of a ban on the ship-to-ship transfer of refined petroleum products with North Korea-flagged vessels.

    According to a statement by Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, hundreds of millions of dollars in Russian assets had been blocked in the US in response to Russia's alleged "election interference," poisoning of former spy Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, malicious cyber-attacks, ties to transnational organized criminal groups, and human rights violations. However, no evidence of this "malign conduct" has been provided so far.

    Washington Imposes New Sanctions

    On Tuesday, the United States also slapped new sanctions on two Russian citizens, six Russia-flagged vessels and two other entities accused of facilitating the illegal transfer of petroleum products to North Korea.

    "Today’s action against two entities and six vessels was taken pursuant to Executive Order 13810 of September 20, 2017, and targets persons involved in the ship-to-ship transfer of refined petroleum products with North Korea-flagged vessels, an activity expressly prohibited by the UN Security Council (UNSC)," the US Treasury said in a statement on its website.

    The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated two Russia-based shipping companies — Primorye Maritime Logistics Co Ltd. and Gudzon Shipping Co. LCC — along with the registered ship owners and managers of the Russia-flagged merchant vessel Patriot, the release said. Five Russia-flagged vessels — Neptun, Bella, Bogatyr, Partizan and Sevastopol — were also targeted, it added.

    New US sanctions were also slapped on two Russian individuals and two entities over what is says are Russian attempts to circumvent other sanctions, according to the Treasury. 

    Both entities and individuals took action to help Divetechnoservices, a Russian entity that was previously designated for procuring underwater equipment and diving systems for Russian government agencies, the Treasury said, including the Federal Security Service.

    “The Treasury Department is disrupting Russian efforts to circumvent our sanctions,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the release. “Today’s action against these deceptive actors is critical to ensure that the public is aware of the tactics undertaken by designated parties and that these actors remain blocked from the US financial system.” 

    All US persons will be prohibited in engaging in any transactions with the targeted individuals and entitites, according to the Treasury.

    The developments come as US President Trump told Reuters on Tuesday that he may consider lifting US sanctions against Russia if Moscow takes reciprocal steps.

    According to him, the topic wasn't on the agenda of his Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin earlier this month, but he would deal with the issue if Russia took steps related to bilateral cooperation with Washington on a spate of issues pertaining to Syria and Ukraine.

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    sanctions, US Treasury, Donald Trump, United States, Russia
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