US sanctions target Russian people - Embassy in Washington
The latest set of strict measures imposed by the US against Russia “targets the top Russian entrepreneurs that refused to play to Washington’s script,” the embassy said in a statement. It also denounced the US move as “yet another misguided step that [leads] to the destruction of free enterprise, competition and integration in the world economy.”
“We are told that these measures are not aimed against the Russian people. But they are,” the embassy added, explaining that the companies added to the sanctions list employ thousands of people.
The latest US sanctions indeed targeted some major Russian energy companies, such as En+ or Eurosibenergo as well as the United Company RUSAL, which is the world’s second-largest aluminum company by primary production output. Other companies that were put on the list include an agriculture company, Agroholding Kuban; one of the largest diversified industrial groups in Russia, the Basic Element; also listed are a car, train and plane producer, Russian Cars (Russkie Mashiny).
Washington officials as well as the US media, however, have repeatedly claimed that the new sanctions are aimed solely at “Russian oligarchs and [government] elites, who profit from this corrupt system,” as US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin put it.
Unnamed US administration officials briefing reporters on the measure reiterated that the restrictions were meant only to cripple the finances of those elites who have “disproportionately benefited” from the decisions of the Russian authorities.
On Friday, the US Treasury imposed a set of tough new measures against Moscow, which it accuses of “a range of malign activity around the globe,” including the alleged instigation of violence in eastern Ukraine and support for Syrian President Bashar Assad. In total, 24 Russians and 14 entities were put on the list.
The restrictions particularly targeted some Russian corporate leaders, such as Oleg Deripaska, the founder and owner of the largest Russian industrial group, the Basic Element, or Aleksey Miller, the CEO of the Russian gas giant Gazprom. Some high-ranking state officials, including including Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev and ex-FSB head Nikolay Patrushev, were also put on the list.
Placing individuals and companies on the sanctions list means the US government can freeze all their property within its jurisdiction. Any US persons are prohibited from doing any business with them.
Russian officials have already denounced the US move, calling it “a dead-end track” and adding that such hostile steps would not be left unanswered. Some Russian lawmakers have already spoken about a possible “asymmetric response” that could target the US both politically and economically.
“Russia is not to be scared, not to mention broken, by [these measures],” the head of the Russian Federation Council’s International Affairs Committee, Konstantin Kosachev, who was also put on the latest sanctions list, told the Russian media.
“What we see in the sanctions is a US attempt to split Russian society,” the Russian embassy in the US said, adding that such attempts would fail. “Under the external pressure, the [Russian] nation has always [rallied] around its leader,” the statement said.