U.S. sanctions 38 individuals, entities over Russian actions in Ukraine

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UPDATE 2-U.S. sanctions 38 individuals, entities over Russian actions in Ukraine

(Adds details on Ukraine president's visit, context)
    By Joel SchectmanWASHINGTON, June 20 (Reuters) - The U.S. government on
Tuesday sanctioned 38 individuals and organizations over
Russia's actions in Ukraine, the U.S. Treasury Department said
in a statement, reaffirming Washington's commitment to
pressuring Moscow over its annexation of Crimea.
    The latest round of sanctions targets Ukrainian and Russian
officials and companies that U.S. authorities accuse of helping
Russia tighten its grip on the Crimean Peninsula, an area of
Ukraine annexed by Russia in 2014 and denounced by Western
leaders as illegal.
    The sanctions decision was announced just before Ukrainian
President Petro Poroshenko met with Vice President Mike Pence at
the White House - and later dropped by the Oval Office to meet
with President Donald Trump and National Security Adviser H.R.
    "These designations will maintain pressure on Russia to work
toward a diplomatic solution," U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven
Mnuchin said in a statement. "This administration is committed
to a diplomatic process that guarantees Ukrainian sovereignty,
and there should be no sanctions relief until Russia meets its
obligations under the Minsk agreements."
    The new sanctions freeze any assets of the individuals and
organizations listed that are in U.S. banks and prohibit
American companies from doing any business with those named.
    The Russian Embassy in Washington did not immediately
respond to a request for comment.
    The European Union on Monday extended the bloc's trade
sanctions on Crimea for a year and diplomats said they expected
the bloc to do the same for its sanctions on Moscow soon.
    The new actions came after the U.S. Senate passed
legislation last week that would impose new measures against
Russia and limit Trump's ability to roll back sanctions against
Russia in the future.
    Peter Harrell a sanctions expert at the Center for a New
American Security said he saw the bill, which is now headed to
the U.S. House of Representatives,  as a sign that lawmakers
were "skeptical of Trump's intentions toward Russia."
    Harrell said he believes Tuesday's actions by the
administration were partly intended to ease those concerns and
"to send a message to Congress that they do not need to enact
new Russia sanctions."

 (Reporting by Joel Schectman Doina Chiacu, editing by G Crosse)
 ((joel.schectman@tr.com; +1-202-310-5468))


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