US Issues Fresh Sanctions Over Ukraine’s Crimea: Treasury

January 29, 2020 Updated: January 30, 2020
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WASHINGTON—The United States on Wednesday, Jan. 29, issued a fresh round of sanctions related to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, targeting eight individuals and a Moscow-based railway company, the U.S. Treasury Department said.

The United States has imposed a series of sanctions in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Moscow has since built up military infrastructure on the peninsula.

The latest move comes a day before a visit to Ukraine by U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

The officials blacklisted on Wednesday include Yuri Gotsanyuk, so-called prime minister of Crimea’s pro-Russian regional government after the 2019 election, and six others, a Treasury statement said.

Five of the sanctioned individuals are named high-level officials of Sevastopol, including a so-called member of the parliament of the Russian Federation representing Sevastopol, says the Treasury statement.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine signed a treaty with Russia in 1997 that allowed Russia to keep its Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol for 20 years. A term later extended until 2042.

Also blacklisted is Moscow-based railway company Grand Service Express, which operates in the Crimea region, and its Chief Executive Officer Alexander Ganov.

Grand Service Express is a privately owned Russian railway company that started offering passenger services connecting Crimea with Russia over the Kerch Strait Bridge in December 2019. The Kerch Strait, which separates mainland Russia from Crimea, is the only outlet from the Azov Sea to the Black Sea.

The U.S. sanctions block assets of these persons and the railway company and prohibit U.S. individuals and businesses from conducting transactions with those targeted. Also, foreign persons who engage in transactions with them may face sanctions.

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Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin answers questions from the press after an interview on CNBC on the North Lawn of the White House in Washington, on Sept. 12, 2019. (Sarah Silbiger/Reuters)

“Treasury’s action, taken in close coordination with our international allies and partners, reiterates our unwavering support for restoring free and fair democratic political processes in Crimea,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement. These actions demonstrate “the strength of the transatlantic alliance in standing up to Russia’s continued aggression,” Mnuchin said.

In 2014, Russian forces invaded the Crimea peninsula, and after that held a controversial local referendum in which “Crimeans voted to join the Russian Federation,” according to the Council of Foreign Relations. The referendum was called illegal by the United Nations General Assembly. However, Russia annexed the Crimea peninsula despite criticism.

Treasury said the individuals sanctioned were also blacklisted by Canada on Wednesday, “as part of coordinated action in a strong demonstration of the international community’s continued condemnation of Russia’s interference in Crimean politics,” Treasury Department said in a statement.

The sanctions follow action taken on Tuesday by the European Union, which blacklisted seven of the same people, including Gotsanyuk. The Council of the European Union imposed sanctions on those seven people for their involvement in organizing so-called “local elections” on Sept. 8, 2019, in the illegally annexed Crimea and Sevastopol, according to the statement adopted by the Council of the EU. Their actions “threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine,” the statement says.

The total number of people sanctioned for undermining the sovereignty of Ukraine by the EU since 2014 rose to 177 after adding these individuals.

The EU also has in place other economic sanctions targeting Russia for creating Ukraine crisis and restrictive measures targeting the illegally annexed territory of Crimea that will expire in June or July 2020.

Reuters contributed to this report.