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The United States has punished dozens of Russian oligarchs and government officials with sanctions that took direct aim at President Vladimir Putin's inner circle, as President Donald Trump's administration tried to show he is not afraid to take tough action against Moscow.

Nevertheless, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the new sanctions did not mean that Trump's offer to sit down with Putin in Washington is off the table.

He said that Trump's attorneys are correct in trying to protect the president from a potential "perjury trap", but added that it may be wise for the New Yorker to go ahead with any interview so as not to embroil him in grand jury case over a subpoena.

The measures were taken under a United States law passed to punish Russian Federation for its alleged bid to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, engage in cyber-warfare and intervene in Ukraine and Syria.

Mr Deripaska, whose business conglomerate controls assets from agriculture to machinery, has been a prominent figure in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation over his ties to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The ministry said no pressure could make Russia change course and that the sanctions would only unite Russian society.

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The Trump administration announced on Thursday that Mr Deripaska was among the individuals and firms being punished for the "ongoing and increasingly brazen pattern" of bad behaviour by Moscow, including accusations of involvement in the nerve agent attack in Salisbury and alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

"Not at all", Sanders said.

- Igor Rotenberg, the son of Arkady Rotenberg, a friend of Mr Putin's since they were teenagers.

Russia's state arms exporter, a key tool in Putin's efforts to support the modernization of his own military by selling advanced hardware around the world, was also added to the sanctions list. Many other targets were associated with Russia's energy sector, including parts of Gazprom.

The Assets of all 24 people from Russian Federation and 15 organisations that fall under the United States sanctions and under jurisdiction have been blocked and American entities are banned from dealing with them. Alexey Miller, CEO of Gazprom, Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Security Council of Russian Federation, and Aleksandr Zharov, the Head of Roskomnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications, - ed.) appeared in the sanctions list as well.


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