Putin 'offended' not on US Treasury sanctions list

Russian President Vladimir Putin Tuesday joked that he was "offended" the US Treasury had not included his name in a list of officials and business leaders eligible for sanctions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with his confidants ahead of March 18 presidential elections in Moscow on January 30, 2018. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin Tuesday joked that he was “offended” the US Treasury had not included his name in a list of officials and business leaders eligible for sanctions.

“I am offended, you know,” Putin told his supporters with a smile, quoting a famous line from a popular Soviet-era movie.

Putin was speaking after the US Treasury released a long-awaited list of Russian officials and business leaders eligible for sanctions under a law designed to punish Moscow for its alleged meddling in the election that brought Donald Trump to power.

The list features the names of most of the senior members in Putin’s administration including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and 96 business people the US considers “oligarchs” close to Putin.

Putin called the release of the list an “unfriendly step” that he said would further complicate US-Russian ties as well as international relations in general.

But, he said, Russia would for now refrain from implementing reciprocal steps.

“We are not interested in curtailing our ties with the United States,” he told supporters in televised remarks.

“We are not going to look for trouble, (and) aggravate relations,” he said. “We know what we want. We want to build long-term, stable ties (with the US) based on international law.”

Putin is widely expected to win a fourth presidential term in March elections, extending his Kremlin term until 2024 and becoming the longest-serving Russian leader since Joseph Stalin.

The seven-page unclassified list — which does not trigger sanctions right away — also features the chief executives of big state-owned companies such as energy giant Rosneft and Sberbank. A separate, classified annex lists lower-ranking government officials or Russians worth less than a billion dollars.

Monday was the deadline for its release under a law passed last year by Congress over the objections of Trump, whom critics in the US say has been oddly reluctant to criticize Russia or Putin.

Under the same law, the State Department on Monday also declined to punish any US or foreign companies for dealings with Russian defense or intelligence agencies.

It argued this was not necessary because governments around the world have already nixed billions in contracts with Russian arms companies due to the mere threat of US action or secondary sanctions.

US lawmakers passed the law — called the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act — out of concern that Trump, eager to have warm ties with Putin, might not take tough action to punish Moscow and Russian officials for interfering in US elections and destabilizing Ukraine.

Special counsel Robert Mueller and two congressional panels are probing Russian interference in the election with the aim of helping Trump beat Hillary Clinton, whether the Trump campaign colluded in this effort and whether Trump has tried to obstruct the investigation.

“It’s not the first day that we live with quite aggressive comments made towards us, so we should not give in to emotions,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who is on the list himself.

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