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Although this magazine has frequently lamented President Trump's tendency to praise Vladimir Putin and his regime in public, we've also applauded the administration for its punitive actions against the Kremlin's dictator.

Rather than punishing Russia for one specific action, the new sanctions are in response to "the totality of the Russian government's ongoing and increasingly brazen pattern" of bad behavior, said the officials, who weren't authorized to comment by name and briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

The Trump administration announced Friday morning that the US will be imposing sanctions against seven Russian oligarchs, 12 companies they're tied to and an additional 17 government officials.

Viktor Vekselberg is the founder and chairman of the Renova Group, which owns and manages assets in several sectors of the Russian economy, including energy.

Kirill Shamalov, who is reportedly Mr Putin's son-in-law, married to Katerina Tikhonova.

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Many of the Russian oligarchs, politicians and affiliated businesses were identified by the Treasury and State Department as potential targets on a list compiled and published in January.

"Nobody has been tougher on Russian Federation than I have", the president said at a news conference on Tuesday. And last month, the USA targeted 19 Russians and five Russian entities with sanctions in the first use of the new sanctions powers Congress passed previous year in response to the election meddling. The measures included the freezing of assets.

On the list are some of Russia's wealthiest and most influential figures, some of whom have been caught up in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether the Trump campaign collaborated with Russian Federation to influence the election, and are believed to have been in contact with Trump's associates.

Those punished aren't necessarily involved in the Russian actions in Syria, Ukraine or elsewhere that have drawn consternation from the west.

"But most importantly, this is a response to Russia's continued attacks to subvert western democracies", said the official.

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The latest U.S. sanctions indeed targeted some major Russian energy companies, such as En+ or Eurosibenergo as well as the United Company RUSAL, which is the world's second-largest aluminum company by primary production output.

Lastly, Russian-owned state firms including weapons trader Rosoboroneksport and the Russian Financial Corporation Bank (RFC Bank) are being targeted due to their involvement with Moscow's intervention in Syria.

"Certainly the grounds for putting my name on the list of SDNs as provided by USA officials are groundless, ridiculous and absurd", he added, using the acronym for Specially Designated Nationals.

The sanctions follow the expulsion of 60 American diplomats from Russia this week, after the nerve-gas poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England.

USA officials confirmed that their action against the oligarchs was in part related to Russia's alleged interference in the us vote, but stressed the broader nature of their concerns.

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Mr. Trump begrudgingly signed the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) in August a year ago, despite arguing that it undermined his own authority to lead USA foreign policy. "Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government's destabilising activities".