White House Announces New Round Of Sanctions Targeting Rusia
NOEL KING, HOST:
This morning, the Trump administration announced a new round of sanctions targeting Russia. The list includes people close to President Vladimir Putin as well as weapons manufacturing and energy firms. For more on this, we've got NPR's Lucian Kim in Moscow. Hey, Lucian.
LUCIAN KIM, BYLINE: Good morning.
KING: So what names on this sanctions list stand out to you?
KIM: Well, one name really stands out. That's Oleg Deripaska. And basically, all the companies that he owns - he's a metals tycoon who goes back to Russia's chaotic privatizations back in the 1990s. He's already had trouble getting into the U.S. in the past. And some people may recognize his name because he's been a business associate of Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager, in the past. There are other names. It's really just a who's who of Russia's elite - the head of Gazprom, the interior minister Kirill Shamalov, who reportedly was recently divorced from Putin's daughter, Mikhail Fradkov, a former prime minister.
The list just goes on and on.
KING: Yeah, and there seems to be a concentration on people and on organizations that are connected to the energy sector. Is that at all significant?
KIM: Well, it's not really a coincidence because energy and commodities are really the main sources of income in Russia. And Russia's richest people have made their fortunes from that. So it's not really a surprise. But again, really the presence of about a half a dozen of Deripaska's - of Oleg Deripaska's companies does really stand out in this list.
KING: And there were also some weapons manufacturers on today's list. What do we know about them? What do we make of that?
KIM: Well, the company on the list is Rosoboronexport. It's actually the state-owned arms exporter. And it's actually already been sanctioned in the past by the U.S. for selling arms to countries like Iran, Syria and North Korea. Arms make up a significant part of Russia's income beyond those natural resources. President Putin has said last year, arms sales reached $15 billion. So this is really very significant. And actually, Rosoboronexport, that company has already come out and said these sanctions are a way for the U.S. to squeeze Russia out of the competitive world arms market.
KING: I mean, but these are not the first round of sanctions that the U.S. has put on Russia, right? There have been previous rounds. What impact do you expect these to actually have?
KIM: Well, I do think there will be an impact because these kind of very personalized, individualized sanctions, they hit Russia's elite where it hurts. I mean, they're looking for places to invest their fortunes. And they also want to have places to spend all that cash. We do already have some reaction coming out of the government, Konstantin Kosachev, he's the head of the Russian Senate's foreign relations committee, also on that list. He called the sanctions baseless, hostile, senseless and kind of a replacement for any kind of real strategy. Lawmakers say they're going to respond.
But even Russians like to joke about these individualized sanctions. They say, you know, it's not known that people or American businessmen like Elon Musk or Bill Gates, it's not known that they really like to vacation in Siberia.
KING: (Laughter) NPR's Lucian Kim in Moscow. Thanks, Lucian.
KIM: Thank you.
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