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Sens. Shaheen, Ayotte decry Russian banks aiding Assad

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire were part of a bipartisan call on the Obama administration Friday to stop Russian banks that have propped up the Assad regime in Syria from doing business in the United States.

The senators say the banks have “repeatedly” undermined American, European Union and United Nations sanctions by aiding Assad.

In a letter, the senators urged Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to “designate” the offending Russian banks, which means to enforce sanctions that prevent the offending Russian banks from doing business in the United States.

“Russian bank support violates international sanctions by enabling Syria to pay for imports and receive funds for exports. This assistance eases much of the financial burden on the Assad regime, allowing it to continue military purchases and pay the soldiers that sustain the war in Syria,” the senators wrote. “It is now more critical than ever that you swiftly designate those financial institutions that have profited from violating sanctions to prop up the Syrian regime.”

Joining Democrat Shaheen and Republican Ayotte in the letter were Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and John Cornyn, R-Texas.

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