Vladimir Putin has described a list of Russian oligarchs and politicians published by the US as a “hostile step” that would “complicate” relations.
Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich is one of 96 oligarchs on the roster of those to have flourished under the Russian President’s regime, alongside major Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov and billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.
Oleg Deripaska, an aluminium magnate being investigated over his ties to the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, is also featured on the list published as part of a sanctions law against Russia for alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Some 114 politicians are also listed, including Mr Putin’s entire administration, cabinet and top officials at the Russian secret service.
Image: Mr Putin said Russia was ‘ready to take retaliatory steps’
Mr Putin has described the list as a “hostile step” that would “complicate the difficult situation Russian-American relations are already in.”
He added: “We were waiting for this list, and I will not hide it, were ready to take retaliatory steps, serious ones, which would have reduced our relations to zero.
“For now, we will refrain from these steps. But we will carefully watch how the situation develops.”
The US Congress ordered the list be published after passing sanctions last summer under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, designed to name those believed to be benefiting from the Putin presidency.
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Despite signing the sanctions into law, Donald Trump had expressed reservations and opposed the list’s publication.
The law was made to require the White House to slap sanctions on anyone doing “significant” business with people linked to Moscow’s defence and intelligence agencies, but the administration has decided it does not need to penalise anyone.
State Department officials said the threat of sanctions had been enough of a deterrent, and that “sanctions on specific entities or individuals will not need to be imposed”.
Image: All those listed have links to Russian President Vladimir Putin
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Spokeswoman Heather Nauert added: “We estimate that foreign governments have abandoned planned or announced purchases of several billion dollars in Russian defence acquisitions.”
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Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the US Foreign Affairs Committee, accused Mr Trump’s administration of having “let Russia off the hook yet again”.
“How do you deter an attack that happened two years ago, and another that’s already underway,” he questioned, in reference to fears that Russia will attempt to intervene in the upcoming mid-term elections.