Published: Wed, January 31, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

USA to impose new sanctions on Russian Federation in near future: Treasury Secretary

USA to impose new sanctions on Russian Federation in near future: Treasury Secretary

In advance of the list's publication, the Kremlin had indicated Russian Federation viewed the registry - and any additional sanctions - as an attempt by the USA to influence Russia's presidential elections in March, when President Putin is all but guaranteed to win re-election to a 4th term in office. The measure, known as the "Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act", or CAATSA, required the administration to list "oligarchs" close to President Vladimir Putin's government and issue a report detailing possible consequences of penalizing Russia's sovereign debt.

Konstantin von Eggert, a foreign affairs analyst and host on the independent station TV Rain, noted that the list had suddenly rendered the role of competing interest groups inside and outside the Kremlin irrelevant.

The list was dismissed in Moscow as little more than a "telephone directory" of the rich. US and Russian observers said it appeared to be a virtual copy of Forbes magazine's list of Russia's wealthiest people.

Boris Titov, presidential ombudsman for business, is on the list along with two other Russian presidential envoys for human rights.

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"The release of the "Kremlin list", which includes practically the entire Russian administration and heads of leading state corporations, undermines the possibility of further dialogue, which is already at its lowest", Leonid Slutsky, Chairman of the Russian State Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee, was quoted by Interfax news agency.

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". "By pointing at alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election, they are completely ruining Russia-U.S. relations".

A companion list of 96 "oligarchs" is a carbon copy of Forbes magazine's Russian billionaires' rankings, only arranged alphabetically.

Indeed, the U.S. Treasury Department acknowledged that the unclassified oligarchs list had been "drawn from publicly available sources". The Treasury says each has an estimated net worth of $1 billion or more. He dismissed the State Department's claim that "the mere threat of sanctions" would stop Moscow from further meddling in USA elections.

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Indeed, Putin was asked about the issue during a campaign meeting with supporters, one of whom asked what he would have to do to join the list - to audience laughter.

But Putin pointedly steered clear of criticizing Trump, describing the list as part of USA political infighting.

Russia hawks in Congress had pushed the administration to include certain names, while Russian businessmen hired lobbyists to keep them off.

In a statement late on Monday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the law by itself was deterring Russian defense sales.

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"Throughout his term in office, President Trump has failed time and time again to stand up to Vladimir Putin, despite the assault that he carried out on our democracy in the 2016 election", Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said. The Treasury Department did not respond to multiple inquiries Monday about the list.

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