In Brief

US issues ‘Putin list’ of Russian oligarchs but imposes no sanctions

Vladimir Putin jokes about US Treasury bid to pressure Kremlin

The Trump administration has defied the Kremlin by publishing a list of politicians and oligarchs linked with Vladimir Putin’s regime - but its uncanny resemblance to Forbes’ Russian rich list has caused widespread mockery.

The US Treasury document, the so-called “Putin list”, was published just before midnight yesterday, as required under a 2017 law designed to pressure the Kremlin over its military intervention in Ukraine, and to punish Russia for alleged meddling in the US election.

But no new sanctions were announced and - despite the Kremlin squawking about how the list amounted to a roster of US “enemies” - the 114 senior Russian politicians and 96 oligarchs on the list looked remarkably familiar.

“Almost all 96 oligarchs listed in the unclassified annex of the report, who have a net worth of at least $1bn, can be found in Forbes’ ranking of the ‘200 richest businessmen in Russia 2017’”, reports CNBC.

Russian media outlet RT says people are questioning why the list “took US officials such a long time to compose if it just copies the Forbes list of Russia’s richest”. The editor-in-chief of Russian radio station Echo of Moscow said on-air that he could have drawn up the same list in 20 minutes, rather than the months it took Washington. 

Meanwhile, President Putin joked about it being “offensive” that he wasn’t included on the list, Bloomberg reports. Putin told an election event today that Russia would “refrain for the moment” from taking retaliatory measures, adding: “In effect, all 146 million of us have been put on some list.”

Russian PM’s ties shocker

The list was also mocked by some for stating the obvious - for example, that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has close ties to Putin, as do officials in the FSB and GRU spy agencies. Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich and American basketball team owner Mikhail Prokhorov were also included on the list, USA Today says.

Some Russian companies issued bonds ahead of the publication, fearing that if their name was featured, it could damage their access to Western capital. However, for the most part, the stock market shrugged off the Putin list, reports the Financial Times.

“Seems like (it was) difficult for Treasury to distinguish so in the end (they) included everyone and then included a big disclaimer that ‘don’t worry sanctions are not imminent’,” Timothy Ash, a senior sovereign strategist at Bluebay Asset Management, told CNBC.

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