Lawmakers see the administration's use of the new sanctions authority as a test of its willingness to counter Moscow at a time when federal investigators are probing the Russian election interference and any possible ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
Elizabeth Rosenberg, a former senior U.S. Treasury Department official, said the sanctions were significant, although there is more to do. This includes their occupation of Crimea, instigation of violence in Eastern Ukraine, support for the Assad regime in Syria by supplying material and weaponry, and ongoing malicious cyber activities.
Others on the list are Kirill Shamalov, reportedly Putin's former son-in-law, and Suleiman Kerimov, a billionaire and senator who is now being investigated for tax fraud in France. Other companies that were put on the list include an agriculture company, Agroholding Kuban; one of the largest diversified industrial groups in Russia, the Basic Element; also listed are a auto, train and plane producer, Russian Cars (Russkie Mashiny).
At a news conference Tuesday, he said: 'Nobody has been tougher on Russian Federation than I have'.
"The U.S.is taking these actions in response to the totality of the Russian government's ongoing and increasingly brazen pattern of malign activity across the world", one official said.
Kirill Shamalov married Putin's daughter Katerina Tikhonova in February 2013 "and his fortunes drastically improved following the marriage" that have helped to build his personal welath into the billions.More news: French rail workers begin major strike action over Macron's reform efforts
Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said, however, Moscow's contacts with the USA government would not be brought to an end by the sanctions. The sanctions will freeze all USA assets of those listed and prevent Americans from doing business with them.
On the list are some of Russia's wealthiest and most influential figures, some of whom have been caught up in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether the Trump campaign collaborated with Russian Federation to influence the election, and are believed to have been in contact with Trump's associates.
Rosoboroneksport, a state-owned weapons trading company, which the USA says has long-standing ties with the Syrian government. They also include 17 senior Russian government officials, plus a state-owned Russian weapons trading company and its subsidiary, a Russian bank.
"The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites", Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said Friday.
Foreign contributions are barred in US elections.
Mr. Trump begrudgingly signed the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) in August past year, despite arguing that it undermined his own authority to lead USA foreign policy. For example, the targeting of Russia's lucrative state arms exporter, Rosoboroneksport, could complicate its ability to sell weapons to clients such as the Syrian government. Sixty American diplomats left Russia this week after the Kremlin retaliated for the expulsion of Russian intelligence officers from the United States in connection to the poisoning of a former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, in the United Kingdom.