Key parts of sweeping US sanctions against Russia

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - WASHINGTON, Feb 23 — The US today issued sweeping sanctions against Russia over the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and to mark the second anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine, targeting more than 500 people and entities as Washington seeks to increase pressure on Moscow.

The US Treasury Department targeted nearly 300 people and entities, while the State Department hit more than 250 and the Commerce Department added more than 90 companies to the "Entity List".

Below are key parts of the package.

Russia's financial infrastructure

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The US Treasury Department said in a statement that it was imposing sanctions on state-owned National Payment Card System, the operator of the Mir payment system.

Mir payment cards have become more important since its US rivals suspended operations in Russia after Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine, and their payment cards issued in the country stopped working abroad.

"The Government of Russia's proliferation of Mir has permitted Russia to build out a financial infrastructure that enables Russian efforts to evade sanctions and reconstitute severed connections to the international financial system," the Treasury's statement said.

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Also targeted were more than a dozen Russian banks, investment firms, venture capital funds, and fintech companies, including SPB Bank, owned by SPB Exchange, which is Russia's second-largest stock exchange and specializes in trading of foreign shares.

Arctic LNG 2

The United States also targeted Russia's future energy production and exports, taking further aim at the Arctic LNG 2 project in Siberia. In November, Washington imposed sanctions on a major entity involved in the development, operation and ownership of the massive project.

Today, the State Department targeted Russia's Zvezda shipbuilding company, which it said is involved in the construction of up to 15 highly specialized liquefied natural gas tankers intended for use in support of Arctic LNG 2 exports.

It also listed Limited Liability Company Modern Marine Arctic Transport SPG, which the State Department said has ties to the project. After November's sanctions, Russia's largest LNG producer, Novatek, and France's TotalEnergies had to declare force majeure to clients over supplies from the project.

Rosgeologia, a Russian-state owned company that provides geological exploration services, including services for the search and exploration of oil and gas fields, was also targeted.

Ust-Luga

Two firms were targeted for their involvement in the development and operation of Russia's LNG complex at the Baltic Sea port of Ust-Luga - the Russian joint venture company building an LNG complex at the port and its subsidiary.

Sanctions evasion

The United States also imposed sanctions on entities based in China, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Kazakhstan over the evasion of Western sanctions on Russia and backfilling, including for sending items Moscow relies on for its weapons systems.

Washington has increasingly sought to crack down on Russia's circumvention of its measures.

The Treasury sanctions designated six China-based firms for shipping microelectronics and other tech goods to Russia, and the State Department list included three other Chinese companies involved in procuring electronic components for entities tied to Russia's military.

The sanctions also targeted Russia-based Aktsionernoe Obshchestvo Avia Fed Service, UAE-based Linker FZE and Kyrgyz Republic-based Obshchestvo S Ogranichennoy Otvetstvennostyu Ukon for supplying third-country aircraft and truck parts.

Russia-Iran military cooperation

Washington also imposed sanctions on Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) for the first time under a Russia authority, though it was already under US sanctions.

The State Department accused it of being involved in arms-related transfers between Iran and Russia, including of munitions and drones.

The Treasury actions targeted a network in Russia's Alabuga Special Economic Zone through which Russia, in cooperation with Iran, has acquired and produced drones.

The statement said Russia and MODAFL had cooperated to finance and produce Iranian-designed "kamikaze drones" for use in Ukraine.

Metals and mining

The United States took further aim too at Russia's metals sector, targeting gold producer Uzhuralzoloto, Russia's largest pipe producer, Pipe Metallurgical Company, and aluminum products producer Samara Metallurgical Plant.

Major Russian steelmaker Mechel was added to the list, with the Treasury saying that its subsidiary provided steel used in Russia's KA-52 attack helicopter.

Coal producer SUEK was added to the list as "a flagship company of Russian transportation logistics that operates its own railway infrastructure and is involved in trucking and other transportation services."

Rheingold Edelmetall, a Liechtenstein-based precious metals investment firm, was added to the list as, according to the Treasury Department, it has "collaborated with Russia-based metals companies to disguise the origin of Russian precious metals."

Additionally, German national Bernd Guenter Diegelmann, a UAE-based employee of Rheingold Edelmetall, "arranged the sale of Russian precious stones in the UAE," the Treasury Department said.

Russia-North Korea munitions transfers

The State Department also imposed sanctions on Vostochnaya Stevedoring Company. It said more than 7,400 containers of munitions and related materials have been delivered to Russia through the company's terminal at Vostochny Port, where Russia has imported shipping containers carrying military-related cargo from North Korea for use in Ukraine.

Russia-based PJSC TransContainer, an intermodal container operator that offers military transportation services to the Russian armed forces and has played a role in the illicit transshipment of North Korean munitions and weapons systems for use on the battlefield in Ukraine, was also hit with sanctions by the Treasury Department.

TransContainer is also the operator of a new rail terminal at SEZ Alabuga, and its leadership was part of a Russian delegation that visited Iran in 2023, the Treasury said.

Nuclear

The US also targeted the Alexandrov Research Institute of Technology, a subsidiary of Rosatom, the state nuclear company, which the State Department said is involved in designing, testing and supporting nuclear power and naval propulsion reactors, including for Russian submarines.

Manufacture of weapons

The State Department also said it was targeting nearly 60 entities and individuals involved in the manufacture of weapons, ammunition, and associated materiel as part of its effort to disrupt and degrade Russia's military industrial base.

Export controls

The Biden administration also imposed new trade restrictions on 93 entities from Russia, China, Turkey, the UAE, Kyrgyzstan, India and South Korea for supporting Russia's war effort in Ukraine, according to a federal government notice posted online on Friday.

The action means companies will be placed on the Commerce Department's "Entity List," essentially banning US shipments to them.

Of the new entities listed, 63 were from Russia, 16 from Turkey, eight from China and four from the UAE. — Reuters

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