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The Treasury Department on Thursday announced new sanctions on Russian and Ukrainian entities and several individuals, all connected to Russia's continuing occupation of Crimea, which the United States considers to be illegal.
The announcement came just days before President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are both scheduled to attend events in Paris, France on Sunday to commemorate the end of the First World War. It was unclear Thursday whether the two leaders would meet face to face, with the Kremlin saying they would, and the White House denying that any meeting had been scheduled.
"The United States is leveraging new authorities to target Russian actors for serious human rights abuses in parts of Ukraine that the United States government has determined are forcibly occupied or otherwise controlled by the Russian government, and other reprehensible acts in furtherance of the Kremlin's malign agenda," said Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the Treasury Department in a statement.
Russia announced earlier this year that it would hold elections on Sunday in the two regions of Crimea in annexed from Ukraine in 2014. The U.S. State Department in September condemned the elections, saying in a statement that "genuine elections are inconceivable, and grossly contravene Russias commitments" under international agreements."
The entities sanctioned Thursday include two Ukrainians, one Russian and nine entities in Ukraine and Russia, partly for actions related to Moscow's annexation of Crimea. One of the entities sanctioned - the Limited Liability Company Southern Project - was linked to Bank Rossiya and Russian businessman Yuri Kovulchuk.
The individuals sanctioned include Andriy Volodymyrovych Sushko, a Russian FSB officer suspected of kidnapping and torturing a Crimean independence activist; Aleksandr Basov, the Deputy Minister of State Security in the Crimean region that Russia has designated the "Luhansk People's Republic;" and Vladimir Nikolaevich Zaritsky, a Russian former military commander who founded UKIP, a limited liability company that was involved in the Russian takeover of three private hotels in Crimea.
The entities sanctioned include several LLCs that the U.S. says were used to illegally nationalize, then privatize resorts and hotels in Crimea following the Russian annexation. Four resorts and hotels in the seaside city of Yalta, in Crimea, were also sanctioned: Sanatorium Miskhor; Sanatorium Dyulber; Sanatorium AY-Petri and the Mriya Resort and Spa. Also sanctioned on Thursday was the Ministry of State Security of the so-called Luhansk People's Republic.
In a statement Thursday, the State Department said the new sanctions "underscore the United States' steadfast partnership with Ukraine and the European Union in unified opposition to Russia's illegal purported annexation and occupation of Crimea and use of force to control parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Eastern Ukraine."
Reuters contributed to this report.