US Admn releases 'Putin list' of Russians eligible for sanctions
Washington: The US Treasury has released a long awaited list of Russian officials and business leaders eligible for sanctions 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 in President Vladimir Putin's administration -- 114 politicians altogether -- and 96 business people the US considers 'oligarchs' close to Putin and worth at least USD 1 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. Also on the list were the chief executives of big state- owned companies such as energy giant Rosneft and Sberbank.
The list was widely expected to infuriate Putin and send shivers through his inner circle and Moscow's moneyed elite, threatening to cut them off from world finance.
On Monday was the deadline for its release under a law passed last year by Congress over the objections of Trump, whom critics in the US say has been oddly reluctant to criticise Russia or Putin.
Under the same law, the State Department on Monday also declined to punish any US or foreign companies for dealings with Russian arms companies. It argued this was not needed because governments around the world have already nixed billions in contracts with those Russian firms.
US lawmakers passed the law -- called the 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 elections and destabilising Ukraine.