- The sanctions imposed by the Treasury and State departments hit entities and people across over 20 countries.
- One of the main targets was Russian billionaire businessman Alisher Usmanov.
- The United States also imposed sanctions on at least four Turkey-based entities.
The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on over 120 people and entities to squeeze Russia over its war in Ukraine, targeting a private military company, a China-based firm and entities linked to state-owned nuclear energy company Rosatom, among others.
The sanctions, imposed by the Treasury and State departments in concert with Britain, hit entities and people across over 20 countries and jurisdictions, including facilitators of sanctions evasion, the State Department said in a statement.
Separately, the Treasury said it imposed sanctions on Russian financial facilitators and sanctions evaders worldwide, including Turkey, United Arab Emirates and China-based people and companies.
The actions reflect an effort by the US government both to broaden the web of US sanctions placed on Moscow since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine and to squelch efforts to circumvent them.
One of the main targets was Russian billionaire businessman Alisher Usmanov, who the Treasury described as having “at his disposal a wide network of businesses in financial safe havens and family members through which to conduct financial transactions, enabling him to circumvent sanctions potentially.”
The State Department said it targeted the businessman’s company, USM Holdings, along with multiple firms under it. Usmanov himself has previously been put under US sanctions.
“The United States will continue to take action against Russia and those supporting its war in Ukraine,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement, saying this was in keeping with the G7’s “commitment to impose severe consequences on third country actors who support Russia’s war in Ukraine.”
Brian Nelson, the Treasury’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said Washington and others would keep up their efforts to “disrupt evasions schemes that support Putin on the battlefield.”
In addition to trying to choke the Russian economy, the United States and its allies have provided extensive weaponry to Ukraine in its 13-month effort to fend off the Russian invasion.
Private military company
Among Wednesday’s targets was the Patriot private military company, which the State Department said was associated with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and competed with the Wagner mercenary group.
Also targeted was China HEAD Aerospace Technology Co, a China-based satellite image reseller that the State Department said supplied satellite imagery of locations in Ukraine to entities affiliated with Wagner and its head, Yevgeny Prigozhin.
The Treasury also targeted King-Pai Technology HK Co, Ltd, which it said is a China-based supplier for multiple entities in Russia’s military-industrial complex.
Five entities and an individual that is part of Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy company Rosatom were also targeted to constrain the company, the State Department said, accusing Rosatom of using energy exports to exert political and economic pressure on its customers.
Washington has not yet imposed sanctions on Rosatom itself.
The United States also imposed sanctions on at least four Turkey-based entities that violated American export controls. It helped Russia’s war effort, Turkey’s biggest US enforcement action since the invasion.
Among the companies organised under Usmanov’s USM Holdings that Washington targeted were Russian mobile operator Megafon; Russia’s biggest iron ore producer Metalloinvest, including Metalloinvest’s Swiss-based and UAE-based subsidiaries; the operator of the Russia-based Udokan copper project and Usmanov’s Uzbekistan-based cement producer Akhangarancement.
The inclusion of Megafon, one of Russia’s big four telecoms operators, marks a shift as Western sanctions have so far stopped short of targeting Russia’s telecoms infrastructure.
Megafon’s press office said it viewed the sanctions as “an unfair and illegal step that has no basis,” adding that it intended to challenge “these restrictions by all means available to us.”
USM Holdings said earlier in response to British sanctions that it considers the measures against the company and its shareholders “unjust and unfounded,” adding that Usmanov has not been engaged in business activity for a long time.
The US Treasury also said it imposed sanctions on the Budapest-based International Investment Bank (IIB), a development bank with majority-Russian ownership with some European countries that have already cut ties with.
“IIB’s presence in Budapest enables Russia to increase its intelligence presence in Europe, opens the door for the Kremlin’s malign influence activities in Central Europe and the Western Balkans, and could serve as a mechanism for corruption and illicit finance, including sanctions violations,” it said.
The Treasury also targeted Sequoia Treuhand Trust Reg, a Liechtenstein-based trust services company whose clients Washington said include Russian elites such as Gennady Nikolayevich Timchenko.
“It will always be a race between sanctions enforcement and sanctions evaders. But at least the US is in the game,” Dan Fried of the Atlantic Council think tank said of Wednesday’s action.