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US sanctions Chinese companies that help Russian mercenaries in Ukraine

Information photo: U.S. Treasury Department building
Information photo: U.S. Treasury Department building

WASHINGTON — The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on a Chinese company suspected of providing satellite imagery of Ukraine to help Russia’s Wagner mercenary group. At the same time, U.S. lawmakers have pushed for stronger action against Beijing.

The U.S. Treasury and State Departments announced a series of actions to formally designate the Wagner Group as a transnational criminal organization, an action that the White House foretold last week.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the new sanctions “will further hinder the Kremlin’s ability to arm its war of war, which is waging a war of aggression against Ukraine and causing unconscionable death and destruction.”

The sanctioned companies include Changsha Tianyi Space Science and Technology Research Institute Co. Ltd., a Chinese company that the finance ministry said had provided satellite imagery over Ukraine to the Wagner Group.

In a statement, the Treasury Department said it “collected the images to enable Wagner to conduct combat operations in Ukraine.” The Ministry of Finance also announced sanctions against the Luxembourg-based subsidiary of the Chinese company.

China is an ally of Russia, but the United States trumpets what it sees as Beijing’s tepid support for the war in Ukraine, including its refusal to supply weapons to Moscow.

But U.S. officials have been concerned about the activities of private Chinese companies, which Washington believes are unlikely to work at the behest of the Chinese government but could be blocked by Beijing.

“When we see their companies violating sanctions, we will bring them to their attention,” Victoria Nuland, the State Department’s No. 3 official, said Thursday at a Senate hearing.

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She was answering the senators’ appeal. U.S. lawmakers have called for sanctions against China unless it restricts Russian exports of technology vital to missiles and other military applications.

Bob Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said: “As far as I know, there is evidence that some Chinese companies, including those passing through Hong Kong, have been exporting dual-use technologies, including semiconductor chips.” ”

“In my opinion, if China provides critical assistance, we should not give up the possibility of sanctions against China, and China should not hide behind some companies,” he said. ”

“We need to do everything possible to cut off the heads of the snakes.”

The finance ministry also imposed sanctions on Kratol, an airline based in the United Arab Emirates, which it said provided the Wagner Group with aircraft to transport people and equipment between the Central African Republic, Libya, and Mali.

The Wagner Group, led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is particularly active in the Central African Republic. The Ministry of Finance blacklisted companies deemed part of the Russian sector.

The Wagner Group is playing an increasingly important role in Ukraine as it sends Russian prisoners promised leniency to the battlefield.

The White House said on Friday that Wagner had about 5,80 fighters in Ukraine, <> percent of whom were prisoners.

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