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U.S. Readied Sanctions on Russian Oligarch’s Associates—Then Mysteriously Backed Off

Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty

Something strange happened in mid-December involving Oleg Deripaska, the Russian oligarch. 

Late last year, the U.S. government signaled that it was about to level a new round of sanctions targeting people and entities linked to Deripaska, according to two Western officials with knowledge of the communication. Back in April 2018, the U.S. sanctioned the oligarch, who once lent millions of dollars to convicted Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort as part of a decades-long relationship between the two men. Over the following months, Deripaska’s allies made a deal with Treasury to limit Deripaska’s control over the companies in exchange for sanctions relief. Then Treasury lifted the sanctions on the companies—though the sanctions on the oligarch himself are still in place. In the year since then, it’s been all quiet on the Deripaska sanctions front. 

Until December, that is. What’s strange is that despite the signal, Treasury didn’t follow through and the sanctions—which would have targeted the unnamed people and entities because of their proximity to Deripaska—didn’t materialize. It’s been two months since the U.S. indicated that the new sanctions were about to come out, and there’s been no movement from Treasury on the oligarch. The two months of inaction has stirred suspicions of political interference in the sanctions process. 

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