By Michael R. Gordon
The U.S. imposed sanctions Thursday on three Russian and Ukrainian individuals it said were linked to human rights abuses in Crimea, moves designed to prevent what Treasury Department officials said were attempts by Moscow to normalize relations with the Ukrainian enclave.
The U.S. also imposed sanctions on nine entities it said were involved in attempts to integrate Crimea into Russia.
Russian forces seized the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and later formally annexed the territory, a move the U.S. and most other nations have condemned as illegal.
The individuals sanctioned include an officer in Russia's Federal Security Service, who was accused of abducting a Crimean Tartar activist and participating in his torture.
Also sanctioned was a senior security official for the separatist government in eastern Ukraine that was established with Russian backing and military support. The official was accused of using his position to harass members of Jehovah's Witnesses congregations.
Companies sanctioned included one that is owned by Russia's largest bank and is involved in investment projects in Crimea.
"Treasury remains committed to targeting Russian-backed entities that seek to profit from Russia's illegal annexation and occupation of Crimea, " Sigal Mandelker, a senior U.S. Treasury Department official, said in a statement.
"Our sanctions are a clear reminder that efforts seeking to normalize investment and economic relationships with those operating in Crimea will not be tolerated and are subject to U.S. and EU sanctions authorities," she added.
Officials at the Russian embassy in Washington didn't respond to a request for comment.
The Trump administration imposed sanctions in August in response to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, and his daughter in Britain earlier this year. Earlier this week, the State Department told Congress that it Russia has failed to show that it had stopped using chemical or biological weapons, a determination that will lead to additional sanctions.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 08, 2018 19:44 ET (00:44 GMT)
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