Black Friday’ Sanctions Against Putin’s Inner Circle

10 Apr 2018

(EDM) The fact that, last Friday (April 6), the United States Department of the Treasury published a new list of severe sanctions targeting Russian businessmen, officials and companies came as no great shock—rumors about that looming punishment had been swirling around Moscow for weeks. The surprise was the list’s composition—with fewer “oligarchs” and many more officials than expected—and the timing. The sanctions came on the heels of Western democracies’ coordinated expulsion of over a hundred Russian diplomats over Moscow’s alleged role in poisoning a former Russian double agent and his daughter with a nerve toxin in Salisbury, United Kingdom. The Kremlin had expected that its firm response to the diplomatic expulsions would make the West think twice about escalating the row further, but the new blow hit where it really hurts—the personal interests of Kremlin loyalists who hold “fluid assets” safely parked in London or Miami. The newly sanctioned Russian elites’ first response was to reassert their loyalty; but for dozens of courtiers and hundreds of subordinates, the moment has come to contemplate the consequences (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, April 6). President Vladimir Putin needs to project confidence to the elites but finds it difficult to deliver anything resembling a convincing answer. [...]

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