US re­leases list of Rus­sians el­i­gi­ble for sanc­tions

Wash­ing­ton’s move is an un­friendly act, says Putin

Arab News - - INTERNATIONAL -

WASH­ING­TON: The US Trea­sury re­leased a long-awaited list of Rus­sian of­fi­cials and busi­ness lead­ers el­i­gi­ble for sanc­tions un­der a law de­signed to pun­ish Moscow for its al­leged med­dling in the elec­tion that brought Don­ald Trump to power.

The list fea­tures the names of most of the senior mem­bers in Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s ad­min­is­tra­tion — 114 politi­cians al­to­gether — and 96 busi­ness peo­ple the US con­sid­ers “oli­garchs” close to Putin and worth at least $1 bil­lion each.

The seven-page un­clas­si­fied list fea­tures For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Lavrov, Prime Min­is­ter Dmitry Medvedev and top of­fi­cials in Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence agen­cies.

Also on the list were the chief ex­ec­u­tives of big state-owned com­pa­nies such as en­ergy gi­ant Ros­neft and Sber­bank. A sep­a­rate, classified an­nex lists lower-rank­ing gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials or Rus­sians worth less than a bil­lion dol­lars.

Putin said on Tues­day the re­lease of the list was an un­friendly act, but Moscow did not cur­rently plan to re­tal­i­ate.

“It is, of course, an un­friendly act. It will com­pli­cate the dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion Rus­sianAmer­i­can re­la­tions are al­ready in, and of course harm in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions as a whole,” Putin said.

Speak­ing at meet­ing with elec­tion cam­paign of­fi­cials in Moscow, Putin said it was “stupid” to treat Rus­sia in the same way as North Korea and Iran, while also ask­ing Moscow to help bro­ker a peace deal on the Korean Penin­sula.

But the Rus­sian leader said he still wanted to im­prove ties with the US and would re­frain from any im­me­di­ate re­tal­i­a­tion.

“We were wait­ing for this list, and I will not hide it, were ready to take re­tal­ia­tory steps, se­ri­ous ones, which would have re­duced our re­la­tions to zero,” Putin said. “For now, we will re­frain from these steps. But we will care­fully watch how the sit­u­a­tion de­vel­ops.”

Putin joked that he was “of­fended” the US Trea­sury had not in­cluded his name on a list.

Medvedev said the re­port will poi­son ties be­tween the two coun­tries for a long time.

The list was widely ex­pected to in­fu­ri­ate Moscow’s mon­eyed elite, as it threat­ens to cut them off from world fi­nance.

Mon­day was the dead­line for its re­lease un­der a law passed last year by Con­gress over the ob­jec­tions of Trump, whom crit­ics in the US say has been oddly re­luc­tant to crit­i­cize Rus­sia or Putin.

Un­der the same law, the State Depart­ment Mon­day also de­clined to pun­ish any US or for­eign com­pa­nies for deal­ings with Rus­sian de­fense or in­tel­li­gence agen­cies.

It ar­gued this was not nec­es­sary be­cause gov­ern­ments around the world have al­ready nixed bil­lions in con­tracts with Rus­sian arms com­pa­nies due to the mere threat of US ac­tion or sec­ondary sanc­tions.

US law­mak­ers passed the law — called the Coun­ter­ing Amer­ica’s Ad­ver­saries Through Sanc­tions Act — out of con­cern that Trump, ea­ger to have warm ties with Putin, might not take tough ac­tion to pun­ish Moscow and Rus­sian of­fi­cials for in­ter­fer­ing in US elec­tions and desta­bi­liz­ing Ukraine.

Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller and two con­gres­sional pan­els are prob­ing Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the elec­tion with the aim of help­ing Trump beat Hil­lary Clin­ton, whether the Trump cam­paign col­luded in this ef­fort and whether Trump has tried to ob­struct the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Be­fore leav­ing of­fice in Jan­uary of last year, then Pres­i­dent Barack Obama im­posed some sanc­tions on Rus­sia over the elec­tion af­fair, tar­get­ing four Rus­sian in­di­vid­u­als and five en­ti­ties and ex­pelling 35 Rus­sian diplo­mats.

In Moscow, the Krem­lin said it would take its time to ex­am­ine the list, which it called “quite un­prece­dented.”

“It’s not the first day that we live with quite ag­gres­sive com­ments made to­ward us, so we should not give into emo­tions,” said Krem­lin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who is on the list him­self. But other Rus­sian of­fi­cials ex­pressed anger and dis­ap­point­ment.

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin said Moscow did not have any plans to re­tal­i­ate over the US’ re­lease of a list of Rus­sians el­i­gi­ble for sanc­tions. (AP)

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