The United States publicly released on January 30 its Oligarchs List, a catalogue of 96 Russian billionaires within its larger Putin List, a directory of the 210 individuals most involved with the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Concern has spread like wildfire among the elite in Moscow, even though the sweeping directory of tycoons and top officials will not lead to further restrictions or sanctions, which were first imposed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014. Michael Caputo, a former campaign advisor to President Donald Trump and current communications consultant to Russian businesses and citizens, said, “I’ve never heard this level of chatter… dozens of Russian oligarchs lawyering up with top American legal talent.”
The Putin List contains 114 political figures “with close ties to [Putin],” including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Among the 96 oligarchs named, each with a net worth of more than $1 billion, were the owner of Chelsea F.C. Roman Abramovich and media magnate Oleg Deripaska. Forbes, upon comparing the list with their own 2017 List of World Billionaires, found that the 96 Russian oligarchs named matched exactly.
The publication of this document came as part of “Congress-mandated retaliation” for alleged Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election. Trump signed the amendments to the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) reluctantly, stating, “I built a great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As president, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.”
Putin, speaking at a rally in Moscow in support of his presidential campaign, joked that he felt “slighted” that his name was excluded from the list before describing the publication as a “hostile step” in Russo-American relations. Putin told campaign officials that “Russia will refrain for the moment” from implementing serious “retaliatory measures.”
Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament, maintained the president’s irreverent tone, remarking that “the U.S. has merely copied out the Kremlin phonebook” in an attempts to prove it has “dirt” on the Russian elite. CNBC noted that many of the names on the Putin List are “in fact not friend [to]Putin.” Some, such as the billionaire Ananyev brothers, have fallen out with the Kremlin and even seen their business interests confiscated.
The United States government affirmed that this list was not an imposition of injunctions against “companies and foreign countries” interacting with the blacklisted individuals. When prompted, the Trump administration stated that it had decided not to pursue new sanctions due to the “disruption of several billion dollars in Russian defense deals…the law is already having a deterrent effect.” According to Putin, after the continued assault on Russian interests, the nation is ready to take “tit-for-tat steps” against the United States in the near future.