U.S. slaps sanctions on Russian naval entities, making it harder for Russia to maintain warships  

The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on 10 Russian naval entities over Russian operations against Ukrainian ports, the U.S. State Department said, as Washington increases pressure on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

The action comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy met with President Joe Biden in Washington and delivered a speech to Congress on Wednesday, during which he thanked the United States for its support of Ukraine in the conflict and pleaded for more weapons.

“In the wake of Russian naval operations against Ukrainian ports, including those that are providing much-needed food and grain to the world, the United States today is imposing sanctions on Russian naval entities,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

Russia’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ukraine said its Black Sea port of Odesa did not operate for a day earlier this month and the ports of Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi had operated only partially after a Russian attack on the region’s energy system.

All three ports export grain under a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July, with Russia and Ukraine to resume Ukraine’s Black Sea shipments – stalled since Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion – and facilitate Russia’s food and fertilizer exports.

The State Department said it designated six of the entities targeted in Thursday’s move for operating or having operated in both the defense and related material sector and the marine sector of the Russian economy. Four additional entities were targeted for operating in the marine sector of Russia’s economy.

Among those designated was the Central Research Institute of Structural Materials Prometey, which the State Department said has been described as the largest materials research center in Russia and among the country’s leading companies involved in military naval shipbuilding and development of military technology.

Other entities involved in Russia’s naval development, production and research, among others, were also designated.

“The United States remains determined to use all appropriate measures to deter Russia’s attacks on Ukraine – whether those attacks be from the air, land, or sea. These accountability measures underscore a simple message: the Kremlin must end its brutal campaign against Ukraine,” Blinken said.

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