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Why the United States is naming wealthy Russians with ties to Putin

01 February, 2018, 01:01 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin and Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller

The U.S. Treasury Department has released this week a list that views possible targets for new sanctions that includes 114 Russian politicians and 96 business figures.

Some Democrats in Congress said they were upset that the report was not immediately accompanied by fresh US sanctions to punish Russian Federation for its alleged meddling in the 2016 election. Sen.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pledged on Tuesday to impose sanctions on individuals on the published list after lawmakers expressed outrage over the Trump administration's failure to do so by the January 29 deadline, The Hill reported.

The U.S. Treasury Department has issued a long-awaited list of wealthy Russians who are connected to the Kremlin, and that has led to some anxiety in Moscow. "We also noted that the report indicates it is not a sanction list", the official said. Although it does not trigger any USA sanctions against the individuals, the very preparations for listing the Russian oligarchs has sent chills across the Russian business community and political elite in the past months.

Mnuchin came under fire from Democrats for the failure to impose any sanctions in the report Treasury released while he was testifying before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday. The announcement earned a harsh rebuke from Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., who accused Trump of rewarding "President Putin by inaction for his intervention in an American election".

"And demarching countries where we thought there could be potential sanctionable activity, and pushing them to stop potential deals", a senior Department official, whose name has not been disclosed, told a media briefing. The State Department said that through demarches to foreign countries and other diplomatic conversations, the US had scuttled potential deals worth billions of dollars to the Russians.

There are "hundreds of thousands, millions, of fans who love you and hope that you win", the Russian leader said. They insist this is proof he's "soft" of Russian Federation.

Schumer said he wants to know whether sanctions were discussed, whether Naryshkin also met with White House or national security officials and whether other sanctioned Russian officials were along on the trip. Congress had requested an unclassified version of the report.

USA officials admitted the public version of the list had been drawn up based on publicly available data such as Forbes Magazine's annual lists of the super wealthy, and Putin joked that he was upset not to have been included himself.

The law calls for the list to categorize "indices of corruption", listing political and business figures by "their closeness to the Russian regime and their net worth", including the assets they hold outside Russia. "The next time Putin does something outrageous like bombing civilians in Syria or hacking elections, there will be huge political pressure in the USA to sanction someone and this list will be the first port of call".

Peskov, as a member of the Kremlin administration, is on the list.

KELEMEN: So far, the administration argues there's no need for new sanctions. It also has vowed to retaliate, and even turned the allegation of election meddling against the United States by accusing it of interfering with Russia's presidential vote set for March.

It lists the chiefs of Russian "parastatal" firms, such as Alexei Miller and Andrei Akimov, the CEOs of energy firm Gazprom and its financial offshoot Gazprom bank, as well as German Gref and Andrey Kostin, the CEOs of two leading lenders Sberbank and VTB.

Ironically, given the huge fuss it has triggered in Moscow, former State Department official Peter Harrell notes that the list wasn't originally supposed to be such a big deal; it was meant to be more of a name-and-shame exercise.

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