US releases 'Putin list' of Russians eligible for sanctions

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Deputy Defence Minister Yuri Borisov visit the Gorbunov Aviation factory in Kazan, Russia on Jan25, 2018. [Photo: Courtesy]
The US Treasury yesterday released a long-awaited list of Russian officials and business leaders eligible for sanctions.

This is under a law designed to punish Moscow for its alleged meddling in the election that brought Donald Trump to power.

The list published shortly before midnight on Monday features the names of most of the senior members of President Vladimir Putin's administration - 114 politicians altogether - and 96 business people the US considers 'oligarchs' close to Putin and worth at least $1 billion (Sh101 billion) each.

The seven-page unclassified list - which does not trigger sanctions right away - features Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and top officials in Russian intelligence agencies.

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Also on the list were the chief executives of big state-owned companies such as energy giant Rosneft and Sberbank. A separate, classified annex lists lower-ranking government officials or Russians worth less than a billion dollars.

Inner circle

The list was widely expected to infuriate Putin and send shivers through his inner circle and Moscow's moneyed elite as it threatens to cut them off from world finance.

Monday was the deadline for its release under a law passed last year by Congress over the objections of Trump.

Under the same law, the State Department on Monday also declined to punish any US or foreign firms for dealings with Russian defence or intelligence agencies.

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It argued this was not necessary because governments around the world have already nixed billions in contracts with Russian arms companies due to the mere threat of US action or secondary sanctions.

US lawmakers passed the law - called Countering America's Adversaries through Sanctions Act - out of concern that Trump, eager to have warm ties with Putin, might not take tough action to punish Moscow and Russian officials for interfering in US polls and destabilising Ukraine.

Separately, the US on Monday lifted a ban on admission of refugees from 11 countries that it identified as a high security risk, while announcing new vetting measures.

The changes came after a 90-day review by the White House of refugee admissions from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Those seeking to enter the US will undergo a risk-based assessment, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement.

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"These additional security measures will make it harder for bad actors to exploit our refugee programm, and they will ensure we take a more risk-based approach to protecting the homeland," DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said. 

russian president vladimir putinus president donald trumpus sanctions on russiamoscowwhite house refugee admissions