US Needs to Decide Whether Unproven Allegations Or North Korean Missiles Are More Important after Latest Russia Wind Up

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The United States has issued a “Kremlin list” of close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, naming 114 Russian politicians and 96 businessmen. It includes ten Russian ministers, such as Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov among other high-profile officials. Though the new report does not automatically impose new sanctions, it paves the way for more anti-Russian restrictions as international banks will now be looking to limit access to any overseas accounts held by such individuals. The list was compiled under the U.S. Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), and released apparently in retaliation for Russian meddling in the previous US election campaign – despite there being no actual evidence released thus far that this took place.

The publication of the list has caused some derision in Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who wasn’t included in the report, joked he was “sad” that he hadn’t been on the list, adding that, however, it represents an unfriendly step by the U.S. administration. The Kremlin has also commented on the report, saying that the inclusion of top Russian politicians and businessmen in the report was “unprecedented”. Russian Vice-Premier Dmitri Medvedev stated: “I think that not making it into the list is reason enough (for a Russian Minister) to step down.” Other comments suggested the CIA had “merely copied down the content of the Kremlin phone directory” while pointing out that some of the biographies of the individuals listed appeared to have been copied word for word from the Kremlin’s website.

The move by the United States to publish the list, however, is already having repercussions. Moscow has stated that it will no longer assist the Americans in calming the situation in North Korea, with which it shares a border and retains close relations.

“Clearly the U.S. are negotiating themselves into an increasingly difficult position concerning Moscow relations”, says Chris Devonshire-Ellis of Dezan Shira & Associates “and there seems little collusion in government between the desire to needle the Russians over what still remain unproven allegations of election interference and the rather larger problem of North Korean missiles. If this conflicting stance continues there could be real problems. The United States needs to be well aware of its shortcomings in continuing this strange game with Moscow”.


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