US issues ‘Putin list’ of 210 top Russians but avoids more sanctions

US issues 'Putin list' of 210 top Russians but avoids more sanctions

TRIBUNAL DESK: The US has published a list of 114 Russian politicians and 96 oligarchs, some close to the president, as part of a sanctions law aimed at punishing Russia for meddling in the US election.

The US stressed those named had not been hit with new sanctions, although some have already been targeted.

Congress passed the sanctions law in August. President Donald Trump signed it while making his reservations clear.

The Kremlin said the list could damage the reputation of those named.

Why has the US published the list?
The government was required to draw up the list after Congress passed the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (Caatsa) in August.

The law aimed to punish Russia for its alleged meddling in the 2016 US elections and its actions in Ukraine.

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

Who has been named?
Informally known as the “Putin list”, the unclassified section has 210 names, 114 of them in the government or linked to it, or key businessmen. The other 96 are oligarchs apparently determined more by the fact they are worth more than $1bn (£710m) than their close ties to the Kremlin.
Most of Mr Putin’s longstanding allies are named, many of them siloviki (security guys). They include the spy chiefs Alexander Bortnikov of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Sergei Naryshkin of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). Mr Putin used to run the FSB.

The men who control Russia’s energy resources are there: Gazprom chief Alexei Miller, Rosneft chief Igor Sechin and other oil and gas executives, along with top bankers like Bank Rossiya manager Yuri Kovalchuk.

The oligarchs include Kirill Shamalov, who is reported to be Mr Putin’s son-in-law, although the Kremlin has never confirmed his marriage to Katerina Tikhonova, nor even that she is the president’s daughter.

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

Will they face new sanctions?
Not at the moment. The US Treasury document itself stresses: “It is not a sanctions list, and the inclusion of individuals or entities… does not and in no way should be interpreted to impose sanctions on those individuals or entities.”

It adds: “Neither does inclusion on the unclassified list indicate that the US Government has information about the individual’s involvement in malign activities.”

However, there is a classified version said to include information detailing allegations of involvement in corrupt activities.
What does it mean for Russia’s elite?
Analysis: Steve Rosenberg.

The good news for the Kremlin: this isn’t a sanctions list. But the good news ends there.

Those Russian officials and oligarchs named by the US Treasury will worry their inclusion could signal sanctions in the future.

Even before the list was made public, the Kremlin had claimed the US Treasury report was an attempt to meddle in Russia’s presidential election.

The list reads like a Who’s Who of the Russian political elite and business world.

Moscow won’t want that to become a Who’s Sanctioned.
What is the Caatsa act and did the president want it?
The law limited the amount of money Americans could invest in Russian energy projects and made it more difficult for US companies to do business with Russia.

It also imposed sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

In signing the act, Mr Trump attached a statement calling the measure “deeply flawed”.

“As president, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress,” he said.

Under Caatsa, the list of names had to be delivered by Monday. The fact it was released about 10 minutes before midnight may reflect Mr Trump’s coolness towards it, and his opposition to punishing more Russians with sanctions.

Earlier in the day, the US government argued the Caatsa law had already pushed governments around the world to cancel deals with Russia worth billions, suggesting that more sanctions were not required.

“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,” state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who is himself on the list, accepted that it was not one of sanctions but added: “Publication of such a wide list of everything and everyone could potentially damage the image and reputation of our firms, our businessmen, our politicians and of members of the leadership.”

He added: “It’s not the first day that we live with quite aggressive comments made towards us, so we should not give in to emotions.”

Russian lawmaker Vladimir Dzhabarov said the inclusion of almost the entire leadership of the country was a de facto severing of relations. BBC

*

*

Top