WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department on Friday sanctioned the former vice speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, six Crimean separatist leaders and a Crimea-based gas company over Russia's takeover of the Crimean Peninsula.
"Crimea is occupied territory," said David Cohen, the undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. "We will continue to impose costs on those involved in ongoing violations of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
Russia's incursion into Crimea has escalated tensions to between Moscow and Washington.
In March, President Barack Obama slapped new visa restrictions on Russian and other opponents of Ukraine's government in Kiev and authorized wider financial penalties against those involved in the military intervention or in stealing state assets. On April 1, Congress sent the president a bill to provide $1 billion in loan guarantees to cash-poor Ukraine and targeted sanctions to punish Russia for its bold annexation of part of the former Soviet republic.
Those sanctioned were:
—Pyotr Zima, the head of the Security Service of Ukraine's main directorate in Crimea, who was dismissed by the interim Ukrainian president for taking an oath of loyalty to the new Crimean authorities.
—Aleksei Chaliy, the chairman of a coordinating council that worked on setting up administration for the city of Sevastopol, who signed the March agreement to unite Crimea and the city with Russia.
—Rustam Temirgaliev, Yuriy Zherebtsov, Mikhail Malyshev and Valery Medvedev, who are accused of playing roles in the March referendum, paving the way for Russia's annexation of Crimea.
—Sergey Tsekov, the former vice speaker of Ukraine's parliament, who allegedly was responsible for facilitating the referendum.
—The gas company, Chernomorneftegaz, was sanctioned for being allegedly complicit in the misappropriation of state assets of Ukraine.
On March 18, the Crimean parliament passed a resolution to seize the Crimean assets of a subsidiary of a Ukrainian state-owned gas company, which has drilling rigs off Crimea's west coast and in the Sea of Azov. The assets were transferred to an entity with the same name, Chernomorneftegaz, and same address.
The Treasury Department action freezes any assets within U.S. jurisdiction held by those sanctioned and also bans U.S. citizens from conducting transactions with them.