Monday 21 May 2018

US 'to sanction oligarchs' with Putin ties

Border patrol agents apprehend people who illegally crossed the border from Mexico into the US near Falfurrias, Texas. Photo: Reuters/Loren Elliott
Border patrol agents apprehend people who illegally crossed the border from Mexico into the US near Falfurrias, Texas. Photo: Reuters/Loren Elliott

Harriet Alexander in New York

Russian oligarchs with ties to President Vladimir Putin are to face sanctions in the US, according to American media reports, in retaliation for Moscow's interference in the 2016 US election.

Those affected were not named, and the 'Washington Post' reported that the sanctions were still being finalised but that around six individuals may be affected.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Reuters
Russia's President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Reuters

Reuters, which first reported on the coming sanctions, said the affected oligarchs have ties to Mr Putin as well as the Kremlin.

Last month, the White House sanctioned 19 individuals and five entities, including Russian intelligence services, in response to Moscow's activities during the 2016 election campaign as well as numerous cyber attacks.

Warfare

In February, special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies in what Mr Mueller's office described as a plot to wage "information warfare" against the US.

Mr Trump has faced fierce criticism for doing too little to punish Russia for the election meddling and other actions.

The US is expected to impose sanctions on more Russians under a law passed last year in response to alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the actions ahead of an announcement.

It was unclear how many Russians would be hit with sanctions or who exactly would be targeted. But under the same law, the administration in January released a list of powerful Russian oligarchs and politicians. Some who were on that list are expected to be targeted.

The State Department declined to comment.

During a joint press conference on Tuesday with Baltic leaders, Mr Trump argued that his administration was continuing to put pressure on Russia for its destabilising actions and election interference.

"Nobody has been tougher on Russia than I have," Mr Trump said.

Mr Trump's outgoing national security adviser, HR McMaster, used his final speech on Tuesday to warn that more must be done to counter Russian aggression.

He said the US had "failed to impose sufficient costs" on Russia, which meant "the Kremlin's confidence is growing".

He said: "Russia has used old and new forms of aggression to undermine our open societies, and the foundations of international peace and stability.

"We are now engaged in a fundamental contest between our free and open societies and closed and repressive systems. Revisionist and repressive powers are attempting to undermine our values, our institutions and way of life.

"Some nations have looked the other way in the face of these threats. Russia brazenly, and implausibly denies its actions, and we have failed to impose sufficient costs."

He added: "Mr Putin may believe he is winning in this new form of warfare. Perhaps he believed that our free nations are weak and will not respond. He is wrong. Russian aggression is strengthening our resolve and our confidence."

Four sources told Reuters that the sanctions would be imposed under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, also known as CAATSA.

CAATSA was passed by Republicans and Democrats seeking to punish Russia for its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, involvement in the Syrian civil war, and meddling in the election.

The White House and Treasury declined comment on whether they planned to impose sanctions this week.

Irish Independent

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