March 16 (UPI) -- The U.S. Treasury moved Friday to sanction six Russians and several defense entities in connection with Russia's seizure of Ukrainian vessels and sailors in the Kerch Strait in November.
The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control charged that the individuals and businesses were being targeted over Russia's "ongoing aggression in Ukraine." The statement spelled out that it believed that the those sanctioned had a role in the attack on the Ukrainian naval vessels last fall.
In November, Russia forcibly took three Ukrainian navy vessels and its sailors that were in the Kerch Strait, forcing Ukraine at the time to issue martial law. Russia charged that the ships were illegally in Russian waters, something that Ukraine has denied.
"The United States and our transatlantic partners will not allow Russia's continued aggression against Ukraine to go unchecked," Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said in a statement. "This joint initiative with our partners in the European Union and Canada reinforces our shared commitment to impose targeted and meaningful sanctions in response to the Kremlin's attempts to disregard international norms and undermine Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
Those sanctioned include Gennadiy Medvedev, the deputy director of the Border Guard Service of Russia's Federal Security Service; Sergey Stankevich, the head of the Border Directorate of Russia's Federal Security Service; and Andrey Shein, the deputy head of the Border Directorate and head of the Coast Guard Unit of Russia's Federal Security Service.
Ruslan Romashkin, of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation for the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, was also sanctioned.
The sanctions also included Ukrainian separatists who are reported to have been involved with November's illegitimate elections in the so-called Donetsk People's Republic: Aleksey Alekseevich Naydenko and Vladimir Yurievich Vysotsky.
Six Russian defense firms with operations in Crimea were also named: Yaroslavsky Shipbuilding Plant, Zelenodolsk Shipyard Plant, AO Kontsern Okeanpribor (Okeanpribor), PAO Zvezda (Zvezda), AO Zavod Fiolent (Fiolent), GUP RK KTB Sudokompozit (Sudokompozit), LLC SK Consol-Stroi LTD and LLC Novye Proekty.
Amid those new sanctions, Russian oligarch and Vladimir Putin ally Oleg Deripaska filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., against the U.S. Treasury Department this week, claiming sanctions against him have devastated his wealth, reputation and economic livelihood.
The Treasury office added Deripaska to the sanctions list in April 2018 for allegedly acting on behalf of "a senior official in the Government of the Russian Federation" and for his operation in the Russian energy sector.