Russia 'to respond' to new US sanctions

A mural of Russia's Vladimir Putin in Simferopol (file pic 2015) with the slogan "Ours" Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Russian forces invaded Crimea in 2014 and it was quickly annexed by Vladimir Putin

The Kremlin has said it will take "adequate measures" after the US increased sanctions on Russian individuals and companies because of the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

As well as six bank officials, the US has targeted Yevgeny Prigozhin, a man known as the Kremlin's caterer, who has close links to the defence ministry.

The US Treasury said the action underscored its refusal to recognise the annexation.

The EU has prolonged its sanctions too.

When Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014, the US and EU imposed travel bans and asset freezes on individuals and companies linked to Russia's ruling elite and added further names in the following months.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not specify what new measures would be taken by Russia, which imposed a food import ban on European countries in retaliation in 2014.

"We can only once again express regret and misunderstanding over this destructive persistence of our US colleagues," Mr Peskov said on Wednesday. "We believe this damages bilateral relations."

Hours earlier, the US Treasury said it would target six executives at Bank Rossiya and its affiliates ABR Management and Sobinbank. One of them is Kirill Kovalchuk, nephew of Bank Rossiya's biggest shareholder, Yuri Kovalchuk, who is also known as the personal banker to President Vladimir Putin.

Several construction and transport companies linked by the Treasury to Crimea are also included.

What is not clear is whether US sanctions on Russia will continue for much longer when Donald Trump becomes president.

When asked if sanctions would stay in place, Reince Priebus, chosen by the president-elect as has White House chief of staff, said this month that "as far as where that product goes next, you have to just wait and see".

Unlike the US, the European Union has not added further names to its list.

Although EU leaders did agreed that sanctions should be extended for another six months, some member states, including Italy and Slovakia, are keen to have the measures eased.

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