The United States has imposed a new round of sanctions against Russian business leaders, further escalating bilateral tensions and prompting a response from Russia's embassy.
The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on 15 of the largest Russian businesses, as well as 24 Russian officials and individual business leaders. Assets of those targeted in the United States have been blocked, and all U.S.-based entities are forbidden from doing business with them.
The sanctions, according to the Treasury, are not a response to anything in particular, but rather what they consider Russia's "malign activities across the world."
"This set of designations is not in response to any single event or issue," a senior White House official told reporters on Friday. "Rather the United States is taking these actions in response to the totality of the Russian government's ongoing and increasingly brazen pattern of malign activities across the world."
The Russian embassy in the United States responded: "Washington has delivered yet another blow to U.S.-Russian relations. Now, the sanctions cover heads of Russian business that refuse to play into Washington's scenario.
"The United States has made yet another erroneous step to destroy freedom of enterprise and competition, to impair integration processes in the global economy."
Further complicating matters is that the sanctions come only a few days after President Donald Trump invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to the White House for talks.
The White House confirmed Friday that the sanctions will not have any effect on the planned meeting. "As the president has said, he wants to have a good relationship with Russia," a White House statement said.