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Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin

Putin: US Took Hostile Step in Publishing Russia List

The list shows that the United States views the entire Russian government as enemies, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov—himself on the list—told reporters on Tuesday

Putin: US Took Hostile Step in Publishing Russia List

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday the US President Donald Trump administration made a “hostile step” when it published a list of Russian businessmen and politicians as part of a sanctions law against Moscow.
The long-awaited US publication appears to be mainly a list of people in Russian government, along with 96 “oligarchs” from a Forbes magazine ranking of Russian billionaires, AP reported.
The list, ordered by Congress in response to Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, had induced fear among rich Russians that it could lead to US sanctions or being informally blacklisted in the global financial system.
But the US surprised observers by announcing that it had decided not to punish anybody under the new sanctions, at least for now. Some US lawmakers accused Trump of giving Russia a free pass, fueling further questions about whether the president is unwilling to confront Moscow.
Putin on Tuesday referred to the list as a “hostile step”—but said Moscow does not want to make the situation even worse.
“We were waiting for this list to come out, and I’m not going to hide it, we were going to take steps in response, and, mind you, serious steps, that could push our relations to the nadir. But we’re going to refrain from taking these steps for now,” Putin said.
The Russian president said he does not expect the publication to have any impact but expressed dismay at the scope of the officials and business people listed.
“Ordinary Russian citizens, employees and entire industries are behind each of those people and companies, so all 146 million people have essentially been put on this list,” Putin said at a campaign event in Moscow. “What is the point of this? I don’t understand.”
Russia hawks in Congress had pushed the administration to include certain names, while Russian businessmen hired lobbyists to keep them off.
In the end, the list of 114 Russian politicians released just before a Monday evening deadline included the whole of Putin’s administration, as listed by the Kremlin on its website, plus the Russian Cabinet, all top law enforcement officials and chief executives of the main state-controlled companies.
President Putin even joked on Tuesday that he felt “slighted” that his name wasn’t there.
Officials said more names, including those of less senior politicians and businesspeople worth less than $1 billion, are on a classified version of the list being provided to Congress. Drawing on US intelligence, the Treasury Department also finalized a list of at least partially state-owned companies in Russia, but that list, too, was classified and sent only to Congress.
The list shows that the United States views the entire Russian government as enemies, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov—himself on the list—told reporters on Tuesday.
Although he said Russia should not “give in to emotions” before studying the list and its implications carefully, Peskov pointed out the name of the law, “On countering America’s adversaries through sanctions.”
“De facto everyone has been called an adversary of the United States,” he said.
In a Facebook post Tuesday, Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the foreign affairs committee for the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russian parliament, said US intelligence failed to find compromising material on Russian politicians and “ended up copying the Kremlin phone book.”

  Political Paranoia
Kosachev criticized the US government for harming Russia-US relations, saying that “the consequences will be toxic and undermine prospects for cooperation for years ahead. He added that the list displays “political paranoia” of the US establishment.
The list’s release was likely to at least partially defuse the disappointment from some US lawmakers that Trump’s administration opted against targeting anyone with new Russia sanctions that took effect Monday.
Under the same law that authorized the “Putin list,” the government was required to slap sanctions on anyone doing “significant” business with people linked to Russia’s defense and intelligence agencies, using a blacklist the US released in October. But the administration decided it didn’t need to penalize anyone, even though several countries have had multibillion-dollar arms deals with Russia in the works.

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