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UPDATE 1-Ukraine sanctions businessman Firtash for business links to Russia military

·2 min read

(Adds quote, details, background)

KYIV, June 18 (Reuters) - Ukraine's security and defence council on Friday said it was imposing sanctions on the tycoon Dmytro Firtash for selling titanium products that allegedly end up being used by Russian military enterprises.

The secretary of the council Oleksiy Danilov said the exact nature of the sanctions would be announced separately in a presidential decree.

A spokesman for Firtash was not immediately available for comment. The council also announced sanctions against businessman Pavel Fuks, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Firtash rose to become a wealthy and influential businessman in Ukraine but has been indicted in the United States on bribery and racketeering charges. He denies wrongdoing and has fought extradition from Vienna.

Relations between Ukraine and Russia collapsed after Russia's annexation of the Crimea peninsula in 2014 and support for separatist forces in the eastern Donbass region in a conflict that Kyiv says has killed 14,000 people.

Firtash was being sanctioned for "his involvement in the titanium business. There is a supply of raw materials and then ... it goes to the military enterprises of the Russian Federation and we cannot allow this to continue," Danilov said.

The production of titanium products is a core business in Firtash's Group DF and it includes titanium mining and enrichment, the production of titanium dioxide, titanium slag, sponge ingots and slabs. Austria's Supreme Court ruled in June 2019 that Firtash could be extradited to the United States but he remains in the country as his lawyers have filed a request for a retrial that has not yet been ruled on.

A final decision to extradite Firtash can only be taken by the justice minister once the case has run its course. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk in Kyiv; additional reporting by Ilya Zhegulev in Kyiv and Francois Murphy in Vienna; writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Catherine Evans and Raissa Kasolowsky)