US may impose new sanctions against Russian oligarchs
White House and Treasury Department did not confirm or deny reports from news agency sources
US plans to impose sanctions on Russian oligarchs this week in line with a law punishing Moscow for meddling in the 2016 US elections, informed sources say..
Perhaps this will be Washington’s most aggressive move against the Russian business elite..
The move, which could affect people close to President Vladimir Putin, reflects Washington’s desire to hold Russia accountable for alleged election interference, which Moscow has denied. – despite the fact that US President Donald Trump hopes to establish good relations with Putin.
Trump has been heavily criticized for allegedly failing to take enough action to punish Russia for election meddling and other actions. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is investigating a possible collusion between Trump’s campaign headquarters with Russia, which the president himself denies.
Two sources said the sanctions could be announced as early as Thursday. They will be a new step after the US decision of March 15, when sanctions were imposed on 19 people and five organizations, including Russian intelligence services, in connection with cyberattacks that took place up to two years ago..
While the decision was the harshest measure taken against Moscow since Trump took office in January 2017, his refusal to impose sanctions on oligarchs and government officials close to Putin has drawn criticism from bipartisan U.S. lawmakers..
Decisions expected this week will include sanctions against Russian oligarchs, including those linked to Putin, as well as the Russian government, two US officials familiarized with the discussion on the matter said..
Four sources said the sanctions will be imposed as part of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act passed by Republicans and Democrats in a bid to punish Russia for its 2014 annexation of Ukrainian Crimea, intervening in the Syrian civil war, and the 2016 U.S. presidential election..
US-Russian relations have deteriorated after claims that Russia was responsible for poisoning a former Russian spy with a nerve agent. Russia denies any involvement in the incident that took place on March 4 in the UK. On March 26, the United States and several European countries announced plans to expel over 100 Russian diplomats in response..
White House and Treasury Department declined to say if they plan to impose sanctions this week.
«The Administration is committed to upholding America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, as we have said many times., – said a senior US official. – We published a list of oligarchs some time ago and the finance minister said that further steps would be taken. But at the moment we can not announce any specific actions.».
In accordance with the law, the Trump administration on January 30 published a list of heads of Russian state-owned companies and «oligarchs», which included such influential figures as the head «Gazprom» Alexey Miller and the head «Rosneft» Igor Sechin.