- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 20, 2014

The U.S. targeted a motorcycle group favored by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the latest expansion of economic sanctions imposed over the Kremlin’s support for Ukrainian separatists.

All together the Treasury Department added 24 individuals and entities to the list of sanctions, barring travel and financial dealings with the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The biker gang, known as the “Night Wolves” took part in armed fighting in Ukraine. The 5,000 member biker club has close ties to Mr. Putin, who has become friends with its leader, Alexander Zaldostanov, known among the bikers as “The Surgeon,” The Telegraph reported earlier this year.

The patriotic group rides to demonstrate Russian pride in former Soviet states and believes, “wherever the Night Wolves are, that should be considered Russia,” The Telegraph reported.

Mr. Putin has been close with the group since 2009 and gave “The Surgeon” an “Order of Honor” for “active work in the patriotic upbringing of the young.”

Others hit by the new sanctions include officials in the Donetsk People’s Republic, the main separatist faction in the eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk; Konstantin Malofeev, who is accused of funding separatists in Crimea, and Mr. Malofeev’s investment group, Marshall Capital Fund, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“These actions target people who are undermining peace and stability in Ukraine and impose additional costs on Russia for its destabilizing action,” said David Cohen, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at The Treasury Department.

The new sanctions come after Russia saw the value of its ruble tumble this week.

Canada also added new sanctions on Friday, targeting technology and product exports in the oil industry, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“Canada will not accept the illegal occupation of Crimea and persistent, provocative military activity in eastern Ukraine,” Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.

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