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The Russian Foreign Ministry has placed sanctions on U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm along with 60 other U.S. citizens and top officials, Interfax news agency reports.
On Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry updated its blacklist to include 61 high-ranking Americans, including Granholm, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, White House economic adviser Brian Deese and Senior presidential advisor Mike Donilon.
The sanctions are in retaliation for “constantly expanding U.S. sanctions against Russian political and public figures, as well as representatives of domestic business”, Reuters cited the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying in a statement.
The new sanctions, which have little if any attention in Washington or in the Western media, come after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was prevented by NATO countries from visiting Serbia and crossing the airspace of Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro.
Responding to the closure of airspace by these NATO countries, Lavrov said “the unthinkable has happened”.
“The international activities of Serbia have been blocked, at least for now, in the Russian direction,” RT quoted Lavrov as saying.
“We won’t mince words here, it’s yet another vivid and didactic demonstration of how far NATO and the EU can go in employing the lowest means to pressure those who aren’t guided by their national interest and aren’t ready to sacrifice their principles and dignity for the sake of the rules that the West is imposing as a substitute for international law,” Lavrov added.
In May, Granholm publicly stated that secondary sanctions on Russian oil purchases were still being considered based on increasing demand from China and India for heavily discounted Urals crude. Such sanctions would be designed to keep Russia from rerouting its crude originally bound for Europe to other markets.
For now, the White House is divided over whether secondary sanctions would cause more harm than good and could serve to create more divisions among allies.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com