Vladimir Putin in Grand Kremlin Palace. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov / Getty Images

The U.S. Treasury Department is sanctioning 7 Russian oligarchs and 12 companies the oligarchs own or control for their “ongoing and increasingly brazen malign” activity, a senior administration official told reporters Friday.

Why it matters: The move targets Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, including his son-in-law, and represents the toughest sanctions against Russia since Trump took office. One senior administration official said the goal is to show that “the elite are not immune for accountability for the actions of the Russian government." It comes as tensions between Russia and the West are rising — fast.

Reality check: There are concerns the Trump administration dragged its feet on targeting Putin’s inner circle, giving them time to restructure their U.S. holdings.

The sanctions come in response to ongoing malicious cyber activities, attempts to subvert Western democracies, Russia’s invasion of Crimea and violence in Ukraine, as well as its assistance to the Syrian regime in bombing its civilians, the administration official said.

  • In addition to the oligarchs and their businesses, the U.S. is also sanctioning 17 Russian government officials; several energy companies, a state-owned weapons trading company with longstanding ties to the Syrian government, and its subsidiary, a Russian bank.
  • The effect: Those sanctioned will have their U.S. assets frozen, and U.S. individuals will be barred from dealing with them. Americans who knowingly try to help those being listed could also face sanctions.

One familiar name: Oleg Deripaska is targeted in these sanctions. Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort started working for Deripaska in 2006. Manafort reportedly sent an email to Deripaska asking if he wanted private briefings on the campaign.

Timing: Last month the U.S. announced sanctions against Russian cyber actors for meddling in the U.S. election.

Go deeper: Meet Putin's oligarchs.

Go deeper

Supreme Court says Manhattan prosecutors can obtain Trump's financial records

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Manhattan prosecutors can obtain President Trump's financial records — and punted House Democrats' efforts to access similar records to a lower court.

Why it matters: The Manhattan ruling, a 7-2 decision, is a stinging loss for Trump, who has fought relentlessly to keep these records secret.

Chelsea Clinton is considering forming a venture capital firm

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Chelsea Clinton is in the very early stages of forming a venture capital firm, Axios has learned from multiple sources.

What we’re hearing: The working name is Metrodora Ventures, after the author of the first medical text known to have been written by a woman (around 2,000 years ago in Greece).

TikTok caught in a U.S.-China vise

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

TikTok, the short-video platform popular among teens for sharing funny moments and dance moves, is getting pulled into the deadly serious geopolitical conflict between China and the U.S.

The big picture: More than any other Chinese-owned app, TikTok has found success outside of its homeland. But as the U.S. sounds security alarms and China turns the legal screws on Hong Kong, the company is fighting to prove that it's not beholden to Beijing — and to forestall a threatened ban by the Trump administration.