- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Trump administration slapped sanctions on a dozen Russian and Ukrainian individuals and businesses Thursday for profiting from Moscow’s illegal annexation and occupation of the Crimea region of Ukraine.

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the congressionally mandated penalties, some of which are additional sanctions for individuals and entities who already are on the U.S. government’s various blacklists.

The move comes just days before President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to see each other briefly, but not for a full-scale meeting, in Paris this weekend during commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

“Treasury remains committed to targeting Russian-backed entities that seek to profit from Russia’s illegal annexation and occupation of Crimea,” said Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal P. Mandelker in a statement released Thursday.

“Our sanctions are a clear reminder that efforts seeking to normalize investment and economic relationships with those operating in Crimea will not be tolerated and are subject to U.S. and EU sanctions authorities,” she added.

According to Treasury officials, the sanctions underscore U.S. support for Ukraine and the European Union and highlight Washington’s opposition to the Kremlin’s annexation and occupation of Crimea in 2014, and use of force to control parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine.

Pressure has been mounting in the region since earlier this year when Russia announced that it would hold elections Sunday in the two regions of Crimea it annexed.

State Department officials lashed out at the move in September, saying that “genuine elections are inconceivable, and grossly contravene Russia’s commitments under international agreements.”

The sanctions announced Thursday targeted two Ukrainians, one Russian and nine entities in Ukraine and Russia.

They include Russian intelligence officers, in addition to the Southern Project LLC, which was linked to Bank Rossiya and Russian billionaire businessman Yury Kovalchuk. He is “reputed to be Vladimir Putin’s personal banker,” according to multiple reports.

A five-star luxury Crimean resort, the Mriya Resort and Spa, also is being sanctioned. The spa is the venue for the annual Yalta International Economic Forum, which is the main Russian platform for showcasing investment opportunities in Crimea, according to the Treasury.

In a retaliatory move early this month, Russian officials announced sanctions on 322 Ukrainian individuals and 68 companies, including presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko, the son of President Petro Poroshenko, the iron-ore producer Ferrexpo Plc and Ukraine’s leading poultry producer.

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