Treasury sanctions annexation abetters


McClatchy Washington Bureau

The Treasury Department on Friday sanctioned seven individuals and a Crimea-based gas company for their alleged roles in the tense standoff between Russia and its neighbor Ukraine.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control announced the sanctions against Chernomorneftegaz, a Crimea-based natural gas company. It originally belonged to the Ukrainian state-owned gas company drilling off of Crimea’s west coast and in the Sea of Azov. It’s kept the name but was seized after the annexation last month by Russia of Crimea.

OFAC officials also sanctioned several Crimean separatist leaders who helped the peninsula hold a referendum to join Russia, a vote rejected by the United States and its allies.

The Obama administration is trying to inflict costs on Russia for its annexation of Crimea and continued threats against neighboring Ukraine. But it’s faced difficulty in getting European allies to fully join in, partly because they have stronger trade ties to Russia and because Russian firms operate refineries and other energy businesses in Europe.

The separatist leaders sanctioned were Pyotr Zima; Aleksei Chaliy; Rustam Temirgaliev; Yuriy Zherebtsov; Mikhail and Valery Malyshev; and Ukrainian national Sergey Tsekov. The former vice speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Tsekov allegedly facilitated the referendum that paved the way for annexation of Crimea.

The U.S. government will freeze any assets the individuals or company have in the United States, and U.S. persons and businesses, including foreign businesses that operate in the United States, are forbidden to deal with the sanctioned.

“Crimea is occupied territory. We will continue to impose costs on those involved in ongoing violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” David Cohen, undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in a statement.

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