US hitting Russian naval entities with sanctions

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters): The United States on Thursday is imposing sanctions on 10 Russian naval entities over Russian operations against Ukrainian ports, the US State Department said, as Washington increases pressure on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

The action comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with President Joe Biden in Washington and delivered a speech to Congress on Wednesday, during which he thanked the United States for its support of Ukraine in the conflict and pleaded for more weapons.

“In the wake of Russian naval operations against Ukrainian ports, including those that are providing much-needed food and grain to the world, the United States today is imposing sanctions on Russian naval entities,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

Since October, Moscow has been targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with large waves of missile and drone strikes.

Ukraine said its Black Sea port of Odesa did not operate for a day earlier this month and the ports of Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi had operated only partially after a Russian attack on the region’s energy system.

All three ports export grain under a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkiye in July, with Russia and Ukraine to resume Ukraine’s Black Sea shipments — stalled since Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion — and facilitate Russia’s food and fertilizer exports.

The State Department said it designated six of the entities targeted in Thursday’s move for operating or having operated in both the defense and related material sector and the marine sector of the Russian economy. Four additional entities were targeted for operating in the marine sector of Russia’s economy.

“The United States remains determined to use all appropriate measures to deter Russia’s attacks on Ukraine – whether those attacks be from the air, land, or sea. These accountability measures underscore a simple message: the Kremlin must end its brutal campaign against Ukraine,” Blinken said.