US will impose no new sanctions against Russia

The Trump administration declined to impose sanctions against companies and foreign countries doing business with blacklisted Russian defense and intelligence entities.

The US has released a sweeping list of prominent Russian business and political figures, in defiance of Moscow and implementing a Congressional law designed to punish Russia for election meddling.

The US Treasury report, published shortly before a midnight deadline, listed every senior member of the political administration at the Kremlin, and every Russian oligarch with a net worth of $1 billion or more.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said addressing supporters in Moscow on Tuesday,  that although he hadn’t yet seen the list, the sheer number of top officials included on it was tantamount to a US condemnation of the whole country.

“What’s the point of this? I don’t understand,” Putin said. “But this is of course an unfriendly act. It complicates already complicated Russia-US relations and harms international relations in general. Those who engage in this are basically engaged in their own domestic politics. They are trying to attack their elected president.”

However, he added that “we have heard about some other secret list, containing other names, so we need to look and see what is going to happen.”

Leading business figures in Moscow were reported to have been anxiously awaiting the report, dubbed the “Putin list.” They feared that even if it did not impose further sanctions, it would have a chilling effect on their businesses.

Logically,  the Trump administration was required to publish the list by the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAASTA), which was meant to punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 US election, as well as alleged human rights violations, the annexation of Crimea and ongoing military operations in eastern Ukraine.

It was supported by Democrats and Republicans who wanted to try and prevent President Trump from watering down US sanctions on Russia. The President described it as “seriously flawed” when he signed it into law in August.

“Sanctions on specific entities or individuals will not need to be imposed because the legislation is, in fact, serving as a deterrent,” a State Department official said.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the legislation had already deterred Russian defense sales. “Since the enactment of the CAATSA legislation, we estimate that foreign governments have abandoned planned or announced purchases of several billion dollars in Russian defense acquisitions,” she said in a statement.

Nauert added that the effects of the law targeting Russian defense sales were “beginning to become apparent,” without citing specifics. Further details were included in a classified report delivered to Congress, the State Department said.

Trump called the bill “seriously flawed” when he reluctantly signed it into law last summer. Congress had given the Trump administration until January 29 to submit key reports under that law.

Intelligence agencies concluded that Russia executed an influence campaign designed in part to boost Trump and hamstring his then-Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

Image Source: Carlos Barria/Reuters

by Israt Yasmin, The Blogging Connection

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