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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, August 20, 2018

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Putin calls U.S. list of Russian oligarchs an unfriendly act

U.S.-Russia relations

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WASHINGTON, U.S. - Late on Monday, shortly before a midnight deadline, the U.S. Treasury Department released a list of prominent Russians with close ties to the Kremlin, in a move that Moscow has called an unfriendly act.  

While the U.S. stressed that the list of 114 Russian politicians and 96 oligarchs, had not been hit with new sanctions, they had been named as part of a sanctions law aimed at punishing Russia for meddling in the U.S. election.

Those named included 114 senior foreign political figures with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and 96 oligarchs, with a net worth of $1 billion or more.

The Treasury Department said in a statement that the list includes senior members of the Russian Cabinet, ministers and other senior political leaders, including the leaders of the State Duma and Federation Council.

It added that the list was compiled "based on objective criteria drawn from publically available sources," and those on it would not be subject to further restrictions.

Before the list was released, Russia warned the release of the list could "jeopardize relations" and have "very, very serious consequences."

In a statement to official news agency RIA Novosti, Aleksey Chepa, deputy chairman of the State Duma's international affairs committee said, "This is another step, which, obviously, leads to further escalation of tensions. While it is too early to talk about this, but if the situation escalates further it can lead to this. The American leadership itself does not see the consequences of these actions, they jeopardize relations in the world between countries, and this can have very, very serious consequences."

Reacting to the list, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that the release of a list of major Russian businessmen close to the Kremlin was an unfriendly act.

He, however, said that Moscow was not currently planning to retaliate.

The list was drawn up as part of a sanctions package signed into law in August last year casts a potential shadow of sanctions risk over a wide circle of wealthy Russians.

Putin said that the list is set to further complicate U.S.-Russia relations.

A U.S. State Department official said that the administration had decided to put foreign governments and private sector entities "on notice ... that significant transactions with listed Russian entities will result in sanctions."

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

The list was released by the U.S. a day after Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that sanctions were "a direct and obvious attempt" by the U.S. to interfere in Russia's upcoming presidential vote in March.

Peskov told reporters, "We do think that this is a direct and obvious attempt to time some sort of action to coincide with our elections in order to influence them. We disagree with this, and we are sure this will have no influence."

 

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