Trump vs Putin.jpegThe United States announced more sanctions against Russia.  In contrast to sanctions issued in March, against Russian hackers and intelligence agencies, those announced Friday attack the wealth of some of Putin’s closest associates—and in doing so attack an important source of Putin’s power.

There are 38 Russian individuals and companies affected, including seven oligarchs close to Putin and 17 top government officials.  This is the latest effort to punish President Vladimir V. Putin’s inner circle for interference in the 2016 election and other Russian aggressions.

A senior administration official, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, said the action was in response to “the totality of the Russian government’s ongoing and increasingly brazen patterns of malign activity around the world.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin,  said that t“The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites,” he said. In that sense, the new sanctions strike at one of the key purposes of Putin’s government—as punishment not only for election meddling in the U.S. in 2016, but also for its activities in Ukraine and Syria.

“Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government’s destabilising activities,” Mnuchin’s statement said.

Reuters reported that the preparations for a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be affected by sweeping the sanctions announced.

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