U.S. Department of the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin slapped Russian companies and individuals with two new rounds of sanctions Tuesday for aiding North Korea and attempting to circumvent previous U.N. and U.S. sanctions.
“The Treasury Department is disrupting Russian efforts to circumvent our sanctions,” Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “Today’s action against these deceptive actors is critical to ensure that the public is aware of the tactics undertaken by designated parties and that these actors remain blocked from the U.S. financial system.”
The individuals and entities punished for evading previous sanctions were tied to Divetechnoservices, a Russian company that had been sanctioned June 11 for “procuring a variety of underwater equipment and diving systems for Russian government agencies.” U.S. officials targeted two companies, Vela-Marine Ltd. and Lacno S.R.O., along with two Russian individuals, Marina Igorevna Tsareva and Anton Aleksandrovich Nagibin.
Treasury Department officials also targeted two entities and six vessels ties to “the ship-to-ship transfer of refined petroleum products with North Korea-flagged vessels, an activity expressly prohibited by the U.N. Security Council (UNSC).”
“Ship-to-ship transfers with North Korea-flagged vessels from Russia or elsewhere of any goods being supplied, sold, or transferred to or from the DPRK are prohibited under the U.N. Security Council resolutions on North Korea and are sanctionable under U.S. law,” Mnuchin said. “Consequences for violating these sanctions will remain in place until we have achieved the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea.”
Tuesday’s round of new sanctions are the latest step President Donald Trump’s administration has taken in punishing Russia following its interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.
Although many of Trump’s most vocal critics in the mainstream media and politics have long accused him of being “soft” on Russia and catering to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump condemned Putin’s government in March for its multiple cyberattacks and imposed tough financial sanctions on five Russian entities and 19 individuals.
Trump also issued a joint statement with British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in March, condemning Russia’s alleged involvement in the March 4 chemical weapons attack on an ex-Russian spy and his daughter in Salisbury, U.K.
That condemnation came a month after special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies in connection with activities interfering with the 2016 U.S. election.
The president also signed a bill last year ramping up sanctions against Russia and some of its oligarchs. Trump allowed the sale of lethal weapons to Ukraine, which angered Russian officials.
Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Iran, one of Russia’s biggest Middle East allies. The president has also pushed for drastic increases in U.S. military funding and the expansion of energy production.
Trump, however, suffered a setback in July following his controversial joint press conference with Putin (pictured above right) in Helsinki, Finland, in which the president said he holds “both countries responsible” for Russian election interference because “we’re all to blame.” The president later clarified his remarks and reaffirmed his support for the U.S. intelligence community and its findings.
Trump’s actions regarding the thorny relationship between the U.S. and Russia matter more than his missteps, former CIA officer Scott Uehlinger said during an interview on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” in July.
“So our policies are working, and in this case deeds speak stronger than the occasional gaffes of the U.S. president,” Uehlinger insisted.