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U.S. Senate To Vote On Deripaska Sanctions Resolution

U.S. sanctions were recently eased on Oleg Deripaska and his main companies, prompting outrage among some U.S. lawmakers.
U.S. sanctions were recently eased on Oleg Deripaska and his main companies, prompting outrage among some U.S. lawmakers.

The U.S. Senate is set to vote on a resolution criticizing the decision by President Donald Trump's administration to ease sanctions on companies linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

The January 15 vote is not expected to pass the Senate because lawmakers from Trump's Republican Party control the chamber.

But the vote is still a reminder of the mood among U.S. lawmakers toward Kremlin-connected oligarchs and Russia, more broadly.

The resolution, sponsored by Senate Democrats, is in response to the December 20 announcement by the Treasury Department that it would lift sanctions on the core businesses of Deripaska. That includes aluminum giant Rusal, its parent company En+, and power firm EuroSibEnergo.

The sanctions imposed in April roiled global metals markets; Rusal is one of the world's largest aluminum producers.

"This is not the moment to give up a source of leverage over the Russian government," the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, said in a speech on January 14.

Deripaska, who is widely believed to have close ties to the Kremlin, has agreed to pare back his controlling stakes in the companies.

Schumer said the timing of the sanctions decision was wrong, given the larger Russia investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and other congressional committees.

With questions growing about his ties to Russia, Trump on January 14 said that he never worked for Russia, his first direct denial after a New York Times report that said the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation in May 2017.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last week testified before a House committee, telling lawmakers that the Trump administration would keep control over the companies.

With reporting by Reuters
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