Defense

Trump Refused To Unleash New Sanctions On Russia, So Why Is Putin Calling The US Response Dangerous?

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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The U.S. Treasury Department released late Monday a long-awaited list of Russian officials and oligarchs with close ties to the Vladimir Putin regime, but declined to levy additional sanctions against the named individuals for the time being.

Congress mandated the roster of potential sanctions targets — informally dubbed the “Putin List” — in response to Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Its release had caused a great deal of consternation among many in the Russian elite, who feared having assets frozen or being shut out of the international financial system.

Though it named 114 senior political officials and 96 wealthy Russians, Putin said the roster was effectively an attack on all Russians.

“It is, of course, an unfriendly act,” he said Tuesday. “It will complicate the difficult situation Russian-American relations are already in, and of course harm international relations as a whole.”

Putin’s displeasure was matched by that of some U.S. lawmakers, for entirely different reasons. Many had expected the Trump administration to impose sanctions against at least some of the people named in the list, but Treasury officials said there would be no additional punishment, at least for now.

ALSO WATCH:

Under the same law that mandated the “Putin list,” the Trump administration was required to place sanctions on anyone doing “significant” business with people linked to Russia’s national security apparatus. But the law is ambiguous about what constitutes a “significant” financial relationship, making it difficult for officials to identity which Russian entities must be sanctioned.

The imposition of new measures is further complicated by the fact that several countries close to Washington, including Saudi Arabia and Turkey, have arms deals with Moscow in the works. The State Department said “sanctions on specific entities or individuals will not need to be imposed” at this time because the threat of sanctions is a sufficient deterrent, reports the Associated Press.

The 114 Russian political figures on Treasury’s list include every top government official, with the notable exception of Putin. In addition to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and dozens of Putin aides, the CEOs of all of Russia’s major state-owned companies were included on the list.

The roster of 96 oligarchs is essentially a copy of the list of billionaires published by the Russian edition of Forbes magazine last year, only arranged in alphabetical order. The list includes tycoons with close ties to Putin, as well as several who have fallen out of favor with the Kremlin.

Treasury said it would also provide Congress with a supplemental classified list that could include lesser known business leaders and officials, but provided no further information, reports Bloomberg.

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