Putin: US took 'hostile step' in publishing Russia list
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said today the Trump administration made a "hostile step" when it published a list of Russian businessmen and politicians as part of a sanctions law against Moscow.
The long-awaited U.S. publication appears to be mainly a list of people in Russian government, along with 96 "oligarchs" from a Forbes magazine ranking of Russian billionaires.
The list, ordered by Congress in response to Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, had induced fear among rich Russians that it could lead to U.S. sanctions or being informally blacklisted in the global financial system.
But the U.S. surprised observers by announcing it had decided not to punish anybody under the new sanctions, at least for now. Some U.S. lawmakers accused President Donald Trump of giving Russia a free pass, fueling further questions about whether the president is unwilling to confront Moscow.
Putin referred to the list as a "hostile step" – but said Moscow does not want to make the situation even worse.
"We were waiting for this list to come out, and I'm not going to hide it: we were going to take steps in response, and, mind you, serious steps, that could push our relations to the nadir. But we're going to refrain from taking these steps for now," Putin said.
The Russian president said he does not expect the publication to have any impact but expressed dismay at the scope of the officials and business people listed.