An AFP file photo of the US Treasury Department in Washington, DC.
The US Treasury Department has announced tighter financial sanctions on Russian banks and energy companies because of what Washington calls Moscow's continued interference in Ukraine.
The US Treasury on Friday cut the length of maturity of bonds issued by Russia's top financial institutions and oil and gas companies that US individuals and institutions are allowed to trade, a move aimed at making it harder for those companies to raise long-term funding.
For Russian banks and other financial institutions listed for sanctions, only debt of 14 days or less issued after November 28 can be traded. Previously the allowed maturity was 30 days.
For listed oil and gas firms, the maturity of permitted new debt was cut to 60 days from 90 days.
The move hits major Russian banks like Eximbank, Sberbank, Vnesheconombank and VTB Bank, and energy giants including Gazprom, Lukoil, and Transneft.
The new order also reiterated the ban in trading new equity issued by the sanctioned firms.
Similar debt and equity-related sanctions were first implemented in 2014 by American and European governments, making access to dollar and euro financing increasingly limited for Russian companies.
The US and its allies had already levied broad economic sanctions against Russia over its alleged support for pro-Russia separatist forces in eastern Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia after a referendum in 2014.
The US and other NATO members have also deployed weapons and troops on Russia’s western borders since 2014.
The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, which was initiated by Kiev after it deployed forces to crack down on pro-democracy autonomy-seekers in the Russian-speaking region, has left more than 10,000 people dead.
The US has also imposed a series of sanctions against Russia as punishment over Moscow’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
The US intelligence community believes Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered a cyber campaign to help Trump win the 2016 presidential race and defeat his main rival Hillary Clinton.
Trump has repeatedly rejected such reports and has expressed support for improving relations with America's Cold War foe.

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