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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

13 mins ago - Health

Standardized testing becomes another pandemic victim

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty

National standardized reading and math tests have been pushed from next year to 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: There’s mounting national evidence that students are suffering major setbacks this year, with a surge in the number of failing grades.

37 mins ago - World

European countries extend lockdowns

A medical worker takes a COVID-19 throat swab sample at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Photo by Maja Hitij via Getty

Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

1 hour ago - Health

Africa CDC: Vaccines likely won't be available until Q2 of 2021

Africa CDC director Dr. John Nkengasong. Photo: Mohammed Abdu Abdulbaqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Africa may have to wait until the second quarter of 2021 to roll out vaccines, Africa CDC director John Nkengasong said Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Why it matters: “I have seen how Africa is neglected when drugs are available,” Nkengasong said.

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