Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has for the first time been included on a list of officials and oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin that could serve as a basis for future US sanctions.
Although Monday’s “name-and-shame” list of 210 people does not stipulate any punitive measures, it was drawn up as part of sanctions legislation reluctantly signed by Donald Trump in August.
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The US treasury department issued the document to congress, which is expected to push for further sanctions against Russia in the coming months. A classified annex to the list may include additional names and information.
Vladimir Putin, who condemned the move as an “unfriendly act,” said he had been ready to take serious retaliatory measures “that would have reduced our relations to zero”.
But Russia would refrain for now, he said at a meeting with supporters of his re-election campaign, suggesting the Kremlin wasn’t overly worried.
The list came under some ridicule, as it emerged that the "oligarchs" portion was taken from the Forbes catalogue of Russians worth at least $1 billion. The treasury department confirmed this to The Telegraph on Tuesday.
Mr Abramovich, who is worth an estimated $9.1 billion, has not previously figured in any US sanctions-related list, although Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny called on Western governments in 2014 to seize his property.
Any sanctions could affect the four New York town houses the oligarch recently bought for a reported $96 million, as well as the steel and mining company Evraz, of which he owns 31 per cent. The company has manufactured pipe for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The political part of the list was almost a verbatim copy of the officials named on the government and administration websites, plus the heads of the houses of parliament, federal agencies and large state companies.
While the list included several out-of-favour businessmen like the Ananiev brothers, it skipped influential ones like multimillionaire Grigory Berezkin, a pro-Kremlin tabloid owner who last year bought a newspaper that had investigated Mr Putin’s family.
Elvira Nabiullina, head of the central bank, and Alexei Kudrin, former finance minister who remains an advisor to Mr Putin, were also not listed.
Deputy prime minister Arkady Dvorkovich called the list a “who’s who in Russian politics,” while senator Konstantin Kosachev joked that US intelligence had “just copied the Kremlin phonebook”.
The list “does not increase pressure on Russia,” said Peter Harrell, a former state department official who developed the 2014 US sanctions on Russia, although he noted that classified annex could contain more damaging, targeted information.
“Congress will push hard, some members of the Trump administration want to take a firmer line on Moscow, but whether the guy at top will take a tough line on Moscow, this list suggests he doesn’t,” he said.
Meanwhile, the state department rebuked Moscow after a Russian fighter jet flew within five feet of a US surveillance plane over the Black Sea.
“We call on Russia to cease these unsafe actions that increase the risk of miscalculation, danger to aircrew on both sides, and midair collisions,” it said.