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The Latest: Envoy: Sanctions based on malicious insinuations

August 21, 2018
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Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs ranking member Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, left, greets Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., as the panel holds a hearing on U.S. economic sanctions against Russia and whether the actions are effective, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Russia sanctions (all times local):

2:05 p.m.

A senior Russian diplomat has denounced the latest U.S. sanctions as baseless, saying they are based on “malicious insinuations.”

The Treasury Department has blacklisted two companies and two individuals suspected of trying to circumvent U.S. sanctions imposed in June in response to cyberattacks. It also targeted two Russian shipping companies suspected of transferring petroleum products to North Korean vessels in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in a statement Tuesday that the move reflects a “hardheaded, narrow-minded and aggressive approach by the U.S.” He added that Russia will respond without hurting its own interests and continue a “calm and methodical work on a constructive agenda.”

He noted that the U.S. attempts to push for tougher U.N. sanctions against North Korea won’t work.

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10:30 a.m.

The Treasury Department is going after two companies and two Russians suspected of trying to circumvent U.S. sanctions imposed in June in response to cyberattacks and other malicious activities run by Moscow’s military and spy services.

The June sanctions were a response to cyberattacks, including last year’s NotPetya attack, as well as intrusions into the U.S. energy grid and global network infrastructure. Treasury officials said then that Russia also had been tracking undersea cables that carry the bulk of the world’s telecommunications data.

Tuesday’s action freezes any assets held in the U.S. by Marina Igorevna Tsareva and Anton Aleksandrovich Nagibin, as well as by the companies Vela-Marine and Lacno S.R.O., which is based in Slovakia.

Those companies and people are suspected of trying to get around sanctions against Divetechnoservices of St. Petersburg. That company was sanctioned in June for procuring underwater equipment and diving systems for Russian government agencies.

As well, the U.S. is sanctioning two Russian shipping companies suspected of transferring petroleum products to North Korean vessels in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

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10:15 a.m.

The U.S. is sanctioning two Russian shipping companies suspected of transferring petroleum products to North Korean vessels in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Treasury said that earlier this year, one vessel linked to the Russian companies transferred 3,500 tons of oil to ships flying the North Korea flag.

Treasury said the buyer was North Korea’s Taesong Bank. The bank is linked to the Workers’ Party of Korea Office 39, which engages in illicit economic activities for North Korean leaders.

The sanctions seek to pressure North Korea to give up its nuclear program. They block the two Russian shipping companies’ assets in the U.S. and ban Americans from dealing with them.

Tuesday’s action targeted Primorye Maritime Logistics Co. and Gudzon Shipping Co., based in the city of Vladivostok, and six of their vessels.

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7:40 a.m.

Britain wants the European Union to ensure its sanctions on Russia are sufficiently comprehensive in response to accusations Moscow poisoned a former Russian spy in Britain, using a nerve agent.

In advance excerpts from his first speech in the U.S. as the U.K.’s foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt says Russia’s foreign policy under President Vladimir Putin “has made the world a more dangerous place.” He says the EU should review its sanctions and make sure “we truly stand shoulder to shoulder with the U.S.”

Hunt is speaking Tuesday morning at the U.S. Institute of Peace. The British Embassy previewed his speech on Monday.

Earlier this month the Trump administration announced new export restrictions on Russia in response to the poisoning.

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