Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin vowed new sanctions of the Russian Federation are coming soon per the law passed by Congress in August of last year with a veto proof margin, directing the president to punish Russia for its alleged involvement in American elections and its actions in Crimea and East Ukraine.
“You can expect sanctions will be coming in the next 30 days,” reported Bloomberg, quoting Mnuchin on Monday as he spoke at UCLA.
“I can assure you, in Treasury, because we are responsible for this, we are enforcing all the existing sanctions and putting more in place,” he told the audience of the administration’s actions on Russia, reported Marketplace.
— Bloomberg (@business) February 23, 2018
The U.S. State Department recently argued that just the ‘threat’ of news sanctions had stopped arms deals between Moscow and other nations.
“We believe somewhere north of $3 billion — we’ve been able to stop those transactions…Stopping transactions like that is, in effect, a punishment,” said spokeswoman Heather Nauert, as quoted on the State Department website.
The Treasury Department also recently released the ‘Friends of Vlad’ list where it detailed individuals and entities that could face further American financial restrictions. This caused worry amongst Russia’s oligarch class as to the safety of their funds abroad. It also gave the Kremlin the impetus to push wealthy business interests to return financial assets to Russia, with amnesty.
The sanction threat may also be pushing Moscow to act militarily against the American coalition in the Middle East. Reports were circulated recently that Moscow was coordinating with command elements of the Wagner mercenary force in Syria prior to the attack on U.S. and Kurd forces which resulted in the death of possibly over 100 Russian nationals in February.
The attack could have been a Kremlin shot across the bow to the Americans to not enforce further sanctions, with appropriate plausible deniability. With 100+ Russian mercenaries dead and dozens more injured, it looks as if the Trump administration called Moscow’s bluff.
In any event, the sanctions are certain to raise geopolitical tensions as Washington pushes back and enforces a real reset in Russian-American relations. As the Kremlin is pushed further into a corner, it may become unpredictable in how it reacts to American pressure.
— Military Times (@MilitaryTimes) February 18, 2018