Russian Federation vows tough response to new United States sanctions

President Donald Trump right and Russia President Vladimir Putin in November at the APEC Summit

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"Nobody has been tougher on Russian Federation than I have", Trump said.

Trump has continued to avoid directly criticising Putin himself, and recently invited the Russian leader to meet with him, possibly at the White House.

- Kirill Shamalov, who is reportedly Mr Putin's son-in-law, married to his daughter Katerina Tikhonova, although neither Mr Putin nor the Kremlin have acknowledged that she is his daughter.

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.

The officials ticked through a list of activities they said had prompted the U.S. to act, including Russia's annexation of Crimea, backing separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, cyber-hacking and attempts to subvert Western democracy.

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Rather than punishing Russia for one specific action, the new sanctions are in response to "the totality of the Russian government's ongoing and increasingly brazen pattern" of bad behaviour, said the officials, who weren't authorized to comment by name and briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

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

Campaigners against Kremlin corruption welcomed the USA move. "I never made secret of my criticism of the USA foreign policy, and I will not change my stance".

"Today's sanctions are basically an addition to the SDN List which means that United States entities are prohibited from any dealings with these persons & companies", BCS Global Markets chief economist Vladimir Tikhomirov commented on April 6, adding that in practice sanctioned entities will not be able to use U.S. dollar accounts, make transfers in USA dollars, or enter into any contracts with USA firms.

In parallel, and to Trump's fury, former Federal Bureau of Investigation chief Robert Mueller has been empowered as a special prosecutor to investigate possible collusion between the president's campaign and Russian Federation.

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His advice to Trump came just hours after a CNN report that Trump was in the preliminary stages of preparing for a possible interview with Mueller later this year.

"The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites", Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement.

United States officials confirmed that their action against the oligarchs was in part related to Russia's alleged interference in the U.S. vote, but stressed the broader nature of their concerns.

Mnunchin claimed that Russian oligarchs and elites profited from this "corrupt system" and could no longer be protected despite their government's activities.

The Russian embassy in the United States responded: "Washington has delivered yet another blow to U.S". Some, but not all, of the individuals sanctioned will also be prohibited from entering the United States. The administration has also expelled dozens of Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian consulates in response to Russian behavior, including the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain that has been blamed on Moscow.

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