U.S. targets Russian gold imports, defense industry in new sanctions

FILE PHOTO: Plastic letters arranged to read "Sanctions" are placed in front the flag colors of U.S. and Russia in this illustration taken February 28, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on over 100 targets and banned the import of new Russian gold, increasing pressure on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine in line with commitments made by the G7 this week.

The U.S. Treasury Department in a statement said it imposed sanctions on 70 entities, many of which it said are critical to Russia's defense industrial base, as well as 29 people in an effort to hinder Russia's ability to develop and deploy weapons and technology used in the invasion of Ukraine.

"Targeting Russia’s defense industry will degrade (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s capabilities and further impede his war against Ukraine, which has already been plagued by poor morale, broken supply chains, and logistical failures," Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in the statement.

Tuesday's move imposed fresh sanctions on Rostec, Russia's state aerospace and defense conglomerate. The Treasury said Rostec's "management umbrella includes more than 800 entities across a wide range of sectors" and that all entities owned 50% or more, directly or indirectly, by Rostec are blocked.

Also sanctioned was United Aircraft Corporation, the maker of Russia's MiG and Sukhoi fighter jets - planes that are also flown by U.S. allies including some NATO members - and which is majority owned by Rostec. The U.S. Treasury said this aims to "weaken Russia's ability to continue its aerial assault on Ukraine."

Tupolev, maker of Russian strategic bomber and transport aircraft, was also designated.

The action also banned the import of Russian-origin gold with the exception of gold that was located outside of Russia prior to Tuesday, taking aim at the country's biggest non-energy export.

Gold is a crucial asset for the Russian central bank, which has faced restrictions on accessing some of its assets held abroad because of Western sanctions.

Russia produces around 10% of the gold mined globally each year.

The State Department on Tuesday is also imposing sanctions on 45 entities and 29 people, including Russian military units and the FSB intelligence agency, the Treasury said. Over 500 Russian military officers will also be hit with visa restrictions, as will other officials.

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis in Washington, Michelle Nichols in New York and David Lawder in Saint Louis; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Marguerita Choy)

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