US imposes new sanctions over Russian oil price cap violations, Kremlin influence in the Balkans

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Treasury on Thursday imposed a new round of sanctions on firms and ships that used American service providers to carry Russian crude oil in violation of the multinational price cap — and imposed another set of sanctions on a group of Balkan people and firms tied to Kremlin influence in the region.

Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on three United Arab Emirates-based firms and blocked three ships that used U.S. service providers to carry Russian crude oil above the $60 price cap.

The sanctions block access to U.S. property and bank accounts and prevent the targeted people and companies from doing business with Americans. The actions on the ships blacklist them from transporting goods with U.S. service providers.

The U.S., along with the EU, countries in the Group of Seven and Australia, imposed a $60 a barrel limit last year on what Russia could charge for its oil. The cap is designed to deprive the Kremlin of revenue to fund its war in Ukraine, forcing the Russian government either to sell its oil at a discount or find a costly alternative shipping network.

Treasury in October imposed its first set of sanctions on two companies that shipped Russian oil in violation of a multinational price cap.

“We are committed to maintaining market stability in spite of Russia’s war against Ukraine, while cutting into the profits the Kremlin is using to fund its illegal war and remaining unyielding in our pursuit of those facilitating evasion of the price cap," said Wally Adeyemo, Treasury's deputy secretary.

Also announced Thursday was a set of sanctions imposed on eight people and six entities across the Balkans — from Bosnia to North Macedonia — accused of corruption and enabling Russian malign influence in the region.

Included in the sanctions are Bosnian politicians, accused leading figures in organized crime in Montenegro and firms and executives in North Macedonia tied to sanctioned Russians.

Brian Nelson, Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said: “Russia has continued to use its influence in the Western Balkans to stymie the region’s integration into international institutions and organizations, as well as leverage key jurisdictions to facilitate its aggressive destabilizing activities."