December 22, 2015 / 4:33 PM / 2 years ago

U.S. imposes Ukraine-related sanctions on 34 individuals, entities

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on 34 individuals and entities as part of its efforts to pressure Russia for its intervention in Ukraine, the U.S. Treasury Department said.

Tanks of the Ukrainian armed forces make a crossing during a withdrawal near the village of Nyzhnje in Luhansk region, Ukraine, October 5, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

“Today’s steps support the U.S. commitment to seek a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Ukraine by maintaining our sanctions on Russia,” the Treasury said in a statement.

The U.S. sanctions would not begin to roll back until Russia fully implements its commitments under the Minsk peace agreement, “including the return to Ukraine of control of its side of the international border with Russia,” it added.

In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the measures were a continuation of an “unfriendly stance” toward Russia. In such cases, he said, “a principle of reciprocity prevails.”

More than 9,000 people have been killed in fighting between Kiev’s forces and Russia-backed separatists in east Ukraine since April 2014.

The U.S. measures were announced a day after the European Union extended economic sanctions against Russia over the conflict in Ukraine until the end of July, drawing a swift rebuke from the Russian economy minister.

The Treasury listed different reasons for the latest designations. It said:

- Fourteen had helped previously targeted people and entities evade sanctions;

- Six are Ukrainian separatists, who already were on the EU sanctions lists, accused of activities in violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity;

- Two were officials in the government of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich. One was accused of ordering the use of firearms against demonstrators in early 2014 and the other accused of embezzlement;

- Twelve are entities, including three Russian banks, operating in the Crimean region of Ukraine, which was annexed by Russia last year.

The Treasury statement also said it had identified a number of majority-owned subsidiaries of Russian state banks Sberbank and VTB as well as defense company Rostec, and that they would be subject to the sanctions already imposed on the parent companies.

“This was only a clarification of the list of organizations which fall under sanctions,” VTB said in a statement. “VTB24 de jure can not borrow on the U.S. market now, which the bank did not do in the past as well.” It said the move will not affect the bank’s clients.

Sberbank declined to comment.

Reporting by Washington Newsroom; Additional reporting by Oksana Kobzeva and Katya Golubkova in Moscow; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Bill Trott

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