Washington identified 114 Russian politicians and 96 oligarchs in lists mandated under last year’s sanctions law, adding pressure over alleged Kremlin interference in the U.S. presidential election, The Washington Post reports. More than a dozen are already targeted under earlier sanctions.
But the U.S. administration now said that it had decided not to punish anybody from the latest list, at least for now. That’s why some lawmakers accused U.S. President Donald Trump of giving Russia a free pass.
The idea is to name-and-shame those believed to be benefiting from Putin’s tenure just as the U.S. works to isolate his government diplomatically and economically, the Post informs. Among the 114 senior politicians are Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, top officials in Russia’s leading spy agencies and CEOs of major state-owned companies. Meanwhile, each of those 96 ‘’oligarchs’’ is believed to have assets totaling one billion dollars or more. The Treasury said it was submitting classified lists, as well.
The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act authorizes the ‘’Putin list,’’ but also says that the government should slap sanctions on anyone doing ‘’significant’’ business with people linked to Russia’s defense and intelligence agencies, using a blacklist the U.S. released last year. But, the administration decided it didn’t need to penalize anyone, even though several countries have had multibillion-dollar arms deals with Russia in the works. Turkey and Saudi Arabia struck deals with Russia, including contracts for weapons, but it is not clear if any of those countries has abandoned the deals to avoid running afoul of the U.S. sanctions.
According to State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauret, foreign governments have abandoned planned or announced purchases of several billion dollars in Russian defense acquisitions since the enactment of the law in August, Reuters reports. She added that it was better to wait to impose sanctions.
‘’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,’’ she stated.
Russia has vowed to retaliate and even turned the allegation of election meddling against the U.S. by accusing it of interfering with Russia’s presidential vote set for March.
‘’We really do believe that this is a direct and obvious attempt to time some steps to coincide with the election in order to exert influence on it,’’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.