Russia's Elite Nervous About New U.S. Sanctions

2018/1/16 13:00:53

Andrei Piontkovsky, a Russian political analyst now based in Washington, D.C., says:” The expectations are very gloomy…because for the first time it will bring personal pain to those closest to Putin."

 

Photo: Gennady Timchenko (left) attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and a delegation of French businessmen in Moscow in 2016. The oil-trading tycoon is expected to be included on an upcoming list of U.S. sanctions. (file photo)

 


By Mike Eckel for RFE/RL, January 15, 2018 16:31 GMT

 

WASHINGTON -- There's a chill settling in over Moscow, and it's not just the arctic temperatures that typically smother the Russian capital in January.

 

As U.S. officials put the finishing touches on new financial and travel sanctions against Russia, expectations that the punitive measures will target an expanded list of secondary companies as well as Kremlin-connected insiders and business leaders are causing consternation.

 

Unlike previous rounds, when Washington tried to punish Russia for its actions in Crimea and Syria by targeting big fish like major state-run firms and government agencies, the focus is shifting. The new wave to be announced by month's end is expected to be broader, focusing on companies that do business with previously sanctioned entities, closing loopholes that allowed Russia to skirt punishment, and identifying -- and potentially going after -- the Kremlin's inner circle of smaller fish.

 

Moscow appears to be on edge. One official has accused the United States of trying to influence the upcoming presidential election. An influential Russian newspaper has reported that as many as 300 people close to President Vladimir Putin's inner circle could be identified. And financial institutions are taking steps to minimize their risk.

 

'Freaking Out'

 

"It is true that the Russians have been freaking out over this for more than a month now," said Daniel Fried, who was formerly the chief sanctions coordinator at the U.S. State Department.

 

Andrei Piontkovsky, a Russian political analyst now based in Washington, D.C., echoes that assessment. "The expectations are very gloomy" in Moscow, he said, "because for the first time it will bring personal pain to those closest to Putin."

 

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https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-sanctio ... ite-nervous/28976991.html

 

 

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