MOSCOW — A new round of United States sanctions targeting oligarchs and businesses is “aimed at the Russian people,” Russia’s US embassy said Friday.
“We are told that these measures are not aimed against the Russian people, but they are,” the embassy said on its Facebook page, calling the measures “a new blow to Russo-American relations.”
Washington on Friday imposed new sanctions on seven oligarchs accused of supporting and profiting from what it said were Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to undermine Western democracies.
Senior US officials described the measures as being aimed at Putin’s “inner circle” and said any assets held by the businessmen in areas under US jurisdiction would be frozen.
Those hit by sanctions include metals magnate Oleg Deripaska, described as operating for the Russian government, as well as Alexei Miller, director of state-owned energy giant Gazprom.
In all, President Donald Trump’s administration targeted seven oligarchs, 12 companies they own or control, 17 senior Russian officials and a state-owned arms export company.
The sanctions follow weeks of tit-for-tat diplomatic measures between Russia and Western states following the poisoning of a Russia former double agent in Britain last month.
The US said however that Friday’s action was taken under a law passed to punish Russia for its alleged bid to interfere in the 2016 US presidential vote, as well as its intervention in conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.
“With these sanctions, we see the United States’ desire to divide Russian society,” Russia’s embassy said.
“But they won’t work. Under external pressure, the country has always rallied around its leader.”
The speaker of Russia’s State Duma lower parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, said the sanctions “aimed to weaken Russia and its economy”.
His deputy Piotr Tolstoy said the raft of measures “will cause a deterioration in already difficult relations.”
For his part, Gazprom boss Miller said that his inclusion on the sanctions blacklist meant he was “doing everything right.”