The U.S Treasury has removed the sanctions it imposed on three firms linked to President Putin’s ally, Oleg Deripaska.
In April 2018, Trump’s administration placed sanctions on three firms controlled by Deripaska as punishment for Russia’s interference in the last presidential election. According to reports, these companies had benefited from a Russian state engaged in criminal activities around the world.
The Russian oligarch, Deripaska, who is a known ally of President Vladimir V. Putin had control of En+ Group, JSC EuroSibEnergo and the world’s second-largest aluminum company, US Rusal. Last December, however, the U.S treasury department hinted that it will be lifting the sanctions on these companies as Deripaska no longer had control over them.
The Democrats wanted the sanctions on the Russian billionaire and his companies to continue. The Republicans and Trump’s administration, on the other hand, opined that the sanctions could adversely affect the global aluminum industry. Deripaska’s aluminum company is one of the biggest suppliers in the world and the sanctions led to a brief increase in the global price of aluminum.
The treasury department has said that only the sanctions on the companies were lifted but the curbs on Deripaska himself remains as he is suspected of having ties to Russian organized crime.
The Treasury’s decision to lift the sanctions on Deripaska’s blacklisted firms has sparked different reactions from politicians. Many of them including Democrats are of the opinion that the Trump administration should have waited until the investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in the presidential elections is concluded.
Earlier in January, 136 Republicans voted with House Democrats to oppose the Treasury’s decision to ease the sanctions. Surprisingly, most of the Republicans who were against the decision changed their minds a day before the sanctions were lifted making it impossible for the house to get the required 60 votes to pass in the Senate.
Although the treasury department says that the firms have agreed to new reporting requirements, political analysts say that lifting sanctions that were imposed less than a year ago will raise questions about Trump’s involvement with Russia.