Updated at 15:34,14-12-2017

U.S. expands sanctions on Russia, Putin's inner circle touched

Belsat

President Obama said he would expand sanctions against Russia, targeting individuals who support the government and a bank with ties to them. The order will also allow to take measures against Russian finance, energy, mining, defense and engineering sectors.

'The United States is today moving, as we said we would, to impose additional costs on Russia,' Mr Obama said in a statement on the South Lawn of the White House before leaving on a trip to Florida.

'These are all choices that the Russian government has made, choices that have been rejected by the international community,' he added.

The new list of sanctioned officials includes 20 names, according to the list published by the US Department of Treasury. Aleksey Gromov, First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration; Sergey Ivanov, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office; and Sergey Naryshkin, Speaker of the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian Parliament, are among those mentioned. Businessmen Arkady and Boris Rotenberg are also on the list - as well as the Russian Railways president, Vladimir Yakunin and businessman Gennady Timchenko, head of the Volga Group.

It is interesting that in yesterday's NYT Alexey Navalny, a prominent Russian opposition politician, suggested U.S. sanctions should 'target Mr Putin’s inner circle, the Kremlin mafia who pillage the nation’s wealth'.

Mr Obama said he had signed a new executive order that would allow him to impose sanctions on Russian industrial sectors, presumably including its energy exports – a step that would greatly tighten the economic pressure on Russia.