U.S. imposes sanctions on supporters of Russia's invasion of Ukraine

FILE PHOTO: The United States Department of the Treasury is seen in Washington, D.C.

By Rami Ayyub and Arshad Mohammed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States on Thursday imposed fresh sanctions to punish those supporting Russia's invasion of Ukraine, targeting people and entities it accused of helping Moscow skirt financial sanctions, steal Ukrainian grain and violate human rights.

The steps by the U.S. Departments of Treasury, Commerce and State were designed to hold the Russian government accountable for its Feb. 24 invasion and continuing war against Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

Ukrainian forces have made major gains this month, advancing in the Kharkiv region and driving Russian soldiers from the city of Izium, dealing Russian troops their worst defeat since they were repelled from the outskirts of the capital Kyiv in March.

"The United States will continue to take actions against those who support Russia’s defense-industrial base, its violation of human rights, and its attempts to legitimize its occupation of Ukrainian territory," Blinken said.

The Treasury said it blacklisted 22 individuals, including four financial executives whose actions could directly or indirectly support Russia's war effort by helping it evade financial sanctions imposed on Russia after the invasion.

It named the four as Vladimir Komlev of NSPK, which operates Russia's Mir payment card network; Viktor Zhidkov of Russia’s central securities depository; Eddie Astanin of a stock exchange clearing service provider; and Andrei Melnikov of Russia’s Deposit Insurance Agency, a state-owned entity used to liquidate financial institutions and access foreign assets.

The U.S. Treasury also sanctioned Maria Alexeyevna Lvova-Belova, a Russian official it said had led Moscow's efforts to deport thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia. It also put new sanctions on Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has mobilized Chechens to fight in Ukraine, and seven members of his family.

A full list of those sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury can be found here https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20220915. As a result of the sanctions, access to any of their property that falls under U.S. jurisdiction is blocked and U.S. persons are generally barred from transactions with them.

In addition, the Treasury said it would bar U.S. persons from providing quantum computing services to anyone in Russia from Oct. 15. This step was taken in coordination with the Commerce Department, which imposed controls on exports of quantum computing-related technology.

The Commerce Department also expanded sanctions to add items useful for Russia’s chemical and biological weapons production and needed for advanced manufacturing in a number of industries.

The State Department said it had imposed sanctions on 22 "Russian proxy officials," five for allegedly helping to steal Ukrainian grain and 17 for aiding in Russia's occupation of Ukraine. It also put new sanctions on the GRU Russian military intelligence agency for aiding forced deportations from Ukraine.

It also sanctioned a string of Russian groups, including three engaged in military space activities, 13 in advanced technology that contributes to Russia's defense industrial base, and 14 involved in sophisticated electronics.

The Russian Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub in Washington and by Arshad Mohammed in Saint Paul, Minn.; Writing by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Doina Chiacu and David Gregorio)