US issues sanctions to limit Russian influence in Balkans

By Jonathan Landay

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Thursday targeted 10 individuals in a new round of sanctions aimed at containing Russian influence in the Western Balkans, the U.S. Treasury said.

The Treasury also imposed sanctions on 20 entities, including 11 based in Russia, in line with executive orders related to the Western Balkans and Russia, according to a Treasury website.

Other sanctioned entities are based in North Macedonia, Liberia, and the United Arab Emirates. Three Liberia-registered oil tankers also were targeted.

The Western Balkans-related sanctions are the latest imposed by the United States on politicians, other individuals and organizations designed to contain Russian efforts to prevent the region’s integration into international institutions, the Treasury said.

The sanctions freeze all property and other assets those targeted have in the United States or are controlled by U.S. citizens and generally prohibit Americans from doing business with them.

Those hit with sanctions are individuals from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia.

They include Savo Cvijetinovic, a senior official of the political party led by Milorad Dodik, the pro-Russia leader of Republika Srpska (RS), who already is under U.S. sanctions for alleged corruption and promoting the secession of the Serb-dominated half of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Cvijetinovic is the RS representative of a firm owned by a former Russian Air Force deputy chief that “facilitated the illegal transfer” of Ukrainian-made helicopter engines to Russia, the statement said.

Reuters was not immediately able to reach Cvijetinovic or others who were sanctioned for comment.

Also targeted was Petar Djokic, Dodik’s minister of industry, energy and mining, who signed an agreement with a Croatian counterpart to build a pipeline from Croatia to a Russia-owned refinery in RS, it said.

Dodik’s Moscow representative, Dusko Perovic, was sanctioned for lobbying for meetings between Dodik and Russian President Vladimir Putin, serving as a go-between the RS government and an unidentified Russian billionaire and working for two of the billionaire’s firms, Treasury said.

In 2022, Dodik said the United States was accusing him of corruption despite the absence of any criminal proceeding against him.

(Reporting by Jonathan Landay; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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