Trump to impose sanctions on Russian firms in connection with disputed natural gas pipeline

President Trump announced Monday that the United States will impose new sanctions against Russian entities in connection with a contested natural gas pipeline project.

The Department of Treasury will sanction companies owned by a Russian investment firm controlled by Oleg Deripaska, FOX News reported.

The new sanctions follow allegations that the Russian firm, Sistema, in conjunction with a Russian contractor, built a section of the North Stream pipeline that runs through the Baltic Sea.

Deripaska has been dubbed the “chief beneficiary” of the project, the department said in a statement.

“This action responds to U.S. sanctions imposed on Mr. Deripaska, including asset freezes and a prohibition on U.S. business transactions, for personal enrichment by using businesses and entities owned or controlled by Mr. Deripaska. As a result of our economic sanctions against Mr. Deripaska, we are taking additional steps to address the potential financial hardship the Russian regime places on the companies that remain integrated with it, in particular, OAO EuroSibEnergo, OAO Itera, and OAO Interpipe,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement.

Trump has come under criticism for friendlier ties with Russia, which have been widely seen as harmful to relations between Moscow and Washington.

“And the United States is taking further steps to respond to the Russian regime’s hostile policies, including for its ongoing efforts to undermine democratic institutions in Europe and its military activities in the European neighborhood,” Mnuchin said.

By following through on their promise, the U.S. has effectively blocked Deripaska’s businesses from accessing any American financial institutions, FOX said.

According to the Treasury Department, Deripaska used “persons with influence” within the Trump campaign to negotiate a uranium deal for the Russian state-owned firm Rosatom and awarded himself “significant construction contracts to build a Russian natural gas pipeline.”

“These actions raise serious concerns about the extent to which Deripaska used his position within the [Russian government] to further his own personal financial interests, and to line his own pockets,” the department added.

The companies are owned by companies set up by Deripaska.

“Renewed sanctions against these Russian-linked entities – which now include Deripaska himself – underscore our strong determination to hold accountable any individual or entity that assists President Putin in interfering with the U.S. democratic process, including the upcoming U.S. presidential election,” Mnuchin said.

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