This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
The United States is imposing a new round of financial sanctions related to Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine, focusing on individuals and companies doing business in Russian-annexed Crimea.
Sigal Mandelker, a U.S. Treasury undersecretary, said on November 8 that the United States “remains committed to targeting Russian-backed entities that seek to profit from Russia’s illegal annexation and occupation” of Ukraine’s Crimea region.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying the sanctions were “doomed to fail” and that Moscow “won’t take them into account.”
U.S. and other Western countries have imposed sanctions on Russia over its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and its backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine, where fighting with Ukrainian government forces has killed more than 10,300 people since April 2014.
The Treasury said it was now targeting three individuals and nine entities that are supporting Moscow’s attempt to “reintegrate” Crimea into Russia through private investment and privatization projects or are engaging in “serious human rights abuses in furtherance of Russia’s occupation or control over parts of Ukraine.”
It identified the sanctioned individuals are Andriy Volodymyrovych Sushko, Aleksandr Basov, and Vladimir Nikolaevich Zaritsky.
Sushko, an officer in Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), is suspected of having participated in the 2017 abduction and torture of a Crimean Tatar activist who opposed Russia’s occupation of the region, according to the Treasury.
Zaritsky is the former commander-in-chief of Russia’s missile and artillery forces who is leading a hotel project in Simferopol, it also said.
The entities are the “Ministry of State Security of so-called Luhansk People’s Republic;” and companies Mriya Resort and Spa; Garant-SV; Infrastructure Projects Management; Sanatorium AY-Petri; Dyulber; Sanatorium Miskhor; KRIMTETS; and Southern Project.
It described Mriya Resort and Spa as a luxury hotel that opened in the resort of Yalta shortly after the annexation and “the main Russian platform for showcasing investment opportunities in Crimea.”
The Treasury said all of the individuals’ and entities’ property and interests in property subject to the U.S. jurisdiction will be frozen, and U.S. persons and entities will generally be prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
The moves reinforce the “Crimea Declaration of July 25, 2018, stating that the United Sates does not and will not recognize Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea,” it added.
Earlier on November 8, Kurt Volker, the U.S. special envoy for Ukraine, said Washington was “leveraging new authorities to target Russian actors for serious human rights abuses” in parts of Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk regions that are “forcibly occupied or otherwise controlled by Russia.”
Speaking in a telephone briefing with journalists, Volker also reiterated the United States’ opposition to local elections planned for November 11 in areas of eastern Ukraine held by the separatists.
“It is something we would call on Russia to halt and not go forward with,” he said, adding that the separatists “do not have legitimacy in the local area nor are they consistent” with the accords signed in Minsk in September 2014 and February 2015 aimed at resolving the conflict.
Ukraine has said the results of the “fake” elections will be “null and void.” European countries have also condemned the “illegitimate” vote.
Russia has argued that the municipal elections are needed “to fill the vacuum in power” following the August killing of Donetsk separatist leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko.
Volker said he planned to meet with his Russian counterpart, Vladislav Surkov — an adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin — “in the next several weeks.”