While the United States under President Trump took its sweet time taking any action against Russia for its act of war on the U.S. regarding the interference in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win, it has now finally passed extremely broad sanctions against
Russian oligarchs and officials.
Many targeted are from Putin’s inner circle. They also target oligarch Oleg Deripaska in a big way, who is former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort’s boss.
Deripaska’s entire business is now blacklisted.
“This is clearly a really intensive strike at Deripaska and his corporate holdings,” Elizabeth Rosenberg, a former Treasury official who is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, told Bloomberg. “By naming a number of oligarchs and state entities, including in the energy sector, it’s meaningful because they’re aiming at sensitive industries in Russia that generate a lot of revenue.”
The U.S. Treasury cited “malign activity” to subvert western democracy as a reason for the sanctions. This is a strike at those who profit from Moscow’s undermining of western democracy, but how much effect can it have coming so late- that’s the question. Certainly Deripaska’s business will be hurt, but the assets that will be frozen are assets the oligarchs knowingly left open at this point.
The sanctions do not target President Putin, and the sanctions took so long to be enforced that anyone with any resources could have moved their assets by now, but they will still hurt.
“The Russian government engages in a range of malign activity around the globe, including continuing to occupy Crimea and instigate violence in eastern Ukraine, supplying the Assad regime with material and weaponry as they bomb their own civilians, attempting to subvert Western democracies, and malicious cyber activities,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement.
It took a year and some months for the Trump administration to even put on a pretense of caring about Russia’s act of war against the U.S., but these are the toughest sanctions since Trump has been in charge. Still, it was obvious that this was coming has been blaring for over a year, plenty of time to hide money and move assets.
What makes this specifically interesting is that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is trying to get Paul Manafort to turn right now, so the fact that the U.S. just blacklisted Deripaska’s business can be seen as pressure, given the ties.
Paul Manafort has been charged in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. For months Trump refused to implement sanctions on Russia that lawmakers passed last year.
This is like being in a fight and signaling exactly where you plan to punch for over a year before you actually do it. The “opponent” has had plenty of time to prepare.
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