USA releases list of Russian politicians, businessmen

Elias Hubbard
January 31, 2018

The list's release was likely to at least partially defuse the disappointment from some USA lawmakers that Trump's administration opted against targeting anyone with new Russian Federation sanctions that took effect Monday.

The secretary said the "intention was not to have sanctions by the delivery of the report last night, but rather to do an extremely thorough analysis".

The Trump administration late on Monday said it would not immediately impose sanctions under the law, created to punish Moscow for meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Congress wanted the list to name and shame those who had benefited from close association with President Putin and put them on notice that they could be targeted for sanctions, or more sanctions, in the future.

In a Facebook post Tuesday, Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Federation Council's foreign affairs committee, said US intelligence failed to find compromising material on Russian politicians and "ended up copying the Kremlin phone book".

The long-awaited USA publication appears to be mainly a list of people in Russian government, along with 96 "oligarchs" from a Forbes magazine ranking of Russian billionaires.

The list, drawn up as part of a sanctions package signed into law in August previous year, does not mean those included will be subject to sanctions, but it casts a potential shadow of sanctions risk over a wide circle of wealthy Russians.

Internationally known oligarchs are there too, such as those with stakes in top English football clubs: Alisher Usmanov (Arsenal) and Roman Abramovich (Chelsea).

The Congress had pushed to release the list to take strict actions against Russian Federation.

"There is not a statutory or regulatory definition of oligarch, so Treasury included the $1 billion threshold as a reasonable number, which is the criteria contained in the US Forbes list", the Treasury spokesman told CNN. Some of the figures and entities named were already subject to US sanctions imposed under the Obama administration. The report was "not a sanctions list", Treasury said.

President Donald Trump's administration on Monday declined to take new steps against Moscow under a law created to retaliate for election interference, drawing criticism from Democrats in particular.

Tensions between the two countries have grown despite US President Trump's promises to mend fences between the former Cold War-era enemies. It expanded sanctions against Russia by punishing those who do business with the Russian military or intelligence sectors. "From that perspective, if the law is working, sanctions on specific entities or individuals will not need to be imposed because the legislation is, in fact, serving as a deterrent", a State Department spokesperson said.

Defending the decision, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert claimed that CAATSA itself, passed past year with bipartisan support, is sufficient legislation against the Russians and therefore no more action is needed. "Since the enactment of the CAATSA legislation, we estimate that foreign governments have abandoned planned or announced purchases of several billion dollars in Russian defense acquisitions", she said in a statement.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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